We speak to PC Nick Morant – Team London Bridge’s funded police officer’
Team London Bridge fund PC Morant’s position as an additional officer dedicated to policing the London Bridge Business Improvement District area; through a contract with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. In this interview he talks more about his role and relationship with the area.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your relationship to London Bridge
I’ve been a police officer since 2007, starting as part of the Peckham Police Station response team. Peckham has gone through a radical change now, but at the time we were dealing with a lot of gang related incidents and knife enabled crimes, it was a great place to start but eventually I felt I needed a new challenge, which brought me to London Bridge. The position of London Bridge’s BID Funded Officer was advertised internally through the police station, I then met with Shane (Deputy CEO of Team London Bridge) who described the role, emphasising the importance of building relationships with local businesses and residents. It sounded ideal really, I saw the opportunity to make a difference in the community, which was a vision I had in terms of my own career.
What is your average day like?
Honestly, there’s no average day! That’s one of the things I like most about being a police officer. I typically start the day by responding to e-mails – a unique aspect of this type of police work is that you’re accessible to the community in a different way to the usual 999 response call. Personally I like to be out of the office and visible on the street as much as I can. It’s good to get involved by going into the buildings and chatting with local business owners – the key is to be visible and ask questions. What I usually find is that people do have concerns, but not extreme enough to call the police, so a coffee and a quick chat is helpful to instigate working towards a solution together.
How important do you think an officer’s relationship with the community is?
Vital. In recent years the Met has gone through a change in terms of budgets, and that’s forced us to be more streamlined in what we do. The advantage of this role is that I have more time to build relationships with people, which is something I missed previously. What really struck me when I started the role is that locals were very enthusiastic to have a familiar police officer on the ground dedicated to their area specifically, which seemed to be something that had been lacking in that area. London Bridge had a very good relationship with the police as a foundation but a visible, familiar, approachable support contact is crucial.
What role do you think BIDs play in building this relationship?
To be honest, before this role I’d never heard of BIDs. Now having seen the work that Team London Bridge have done, I know they play a crucial role behind the scenes in terms of linking different organisations and companies together. What I’ve come to learn is that there’s a lot of knowledge within the community from so many different individuals – ex-police, ex-military: Team London bridge have been crucial in pulling that expertise together and making the most of these connections to improve the area. It helps me a great deal, and helps everyone else work together.
How do you and other officers work together to make London Bridge safer?
I work as part of the Joint Enforcement Team based in Southwark, and also work with two other funded officers from Bankside. We work together closely, running covert operations targeting theft in local bars and clubs. If I’m not on duty I make sure everyone is aware of what’s going on, so they can task patrols to the area if needed. I also work with Southwark Council Wardens and the British Transport Police, who are always happy to assist with any issues. We know from previous experience that a person who has just committed an offence will often attempt to get straight on a train, if a BTP officer is on the gates we can use our radios to communicate and try and prevent them from travelling. It’s crucial that I work with other Police Departments so we can target issues effectively.
Are there any unique procedures/ operations in the area that help make London Bridge safer?
Operation Seaborough targets theft and pickpocketing issues around London Bridge- we’ve just noted an improvement in these statistics, hopefully down to the work we’ve been doing which includes proactive stop and searches, and also making information readily available to the general public through crime prevention events and engaging people on the street. We’re also part of wider operations, like targeting commercial burglaries in SE1 as response to a rise in creative agency thefts. Commercial burglaries can be devastating for small businesses so we do our best to prepare them the best we can. Ourselves and Better Bankside also meet quarterly for Pubwatch SE1, which brings together the bars, pubs and clubs with the police to improve safety. We give crime prevention advice to employees and visit local businesses, carrying out security checks and giving advice.
Do you have any safety tips for visitors to the area/ local businesses?
The good thing about London Bridge is that it’s a very safe area to begin with – London as a capital city is one of the safest in the world. In that respect, visitors and locals are generally safe but it’s the simple things such as being vigilant, being aware of your surroundings and using common sense. Be aware of where you’re putting your belongs and don’t leave yourself vulnerable to an opportunist. From a business perspective being aware of physical security is important. Always be aware of who is allowed into the building and take steps to ensure you’re not at risk, such as installing CCTV or introducing smart water- I’m happy to do a security review of any local companies myself. Cyber Essentials is also a great government backed scheme to help businesses determine how cyber-secure their business is and take the steps needed to protect themselves. Southwark Safe have also recently launched the Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) Radio scheme. Basically, it’s a network of radios distributed to businesses within the area, 20 of which are currently funded by Team London Bridge. We want the radios to link up the area, and make it more secure. The more these businesses share information, the better equipped London Bridge will be to work together to locate potential suspects and prevent them from committing repeat offences.
If you would like to enquire about a BCRP radio for your business, or speak to PC Nick Morant to any issues related to those discussed in the article, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com