BY ALIX CULBERTSON
ALIX CULBERTSON talks to Hammersmith and Fulham’s new police chief, Gideon Springer, about his aspirations for the borough, why he is a role model for black officers and how he will continue to go on the beat.
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New borough commander Gideon Springer started last week
By his own admission, newly promoted Chief Superintendent Gideon Springer, has big shoes to fill after taking over from Hammersmith and Fulham’s previous borough commander Lucy D’Orsi last Monday (3).
He sees that as a good thing and judging from his previous experience in the Met the small west London borough should not be too difficult to police, compared to Tottenham where he started off - as the only black police officer in his team.
The father-of-three has been with the Met since he left university with an applied science degree in 1988 and admits he never thought of joining the police until some of his friends with fathers in the force persuaded him to.
Now 49-years-old, he has reached one of the top jobs in the Met and comes to Hammersmith and Fulham from Brent where he was Superintendent of operations.
“I only found out I’d got the job six weeks ago so it’s been quite speedy,” he said. “I was absolutely thrilled when I got it and after a week at Hammersmith and Fulham all seems to be going well.
“ Lucy D’Orsi managed to pull the borough right up and it’s been exceeding crime targets for a while now so if something’s not broken you don’t want to fix it, but I’ll be focusing on making sure it doesn’t slip. Hammersmith and Fulham is in the top five boroughs for crime fighting in London and I want us to be number one. What we will be working on is detecting criminals, we’re very good at preventing crime thanks to our partnership with the local authority but detection is a lot harder.
“There are some areas in the borough which are known for crime so we’ll be tackling those but nowhere is too bad compared to many other central London boroughs.”
Gideon Springer has replaced Lucy D'Orsi as Hammersmith and Fulham's police chief
Originally from Lancashire, Mr Springer’s experiences in the Met leave him well suited to the job. He has spent much of his career as a public order events officer, especially at White Hart Lane where Tottenham Hotspur FC play and at Wembley Stadium.
“With three major football clubs in the borough, I’m really looking forward to policing matches every weekend. Compared to Tottenham it should be a breeze, they’re normally quite well-behaved in west London and the team has already got a fantastic set-up.”
Not one for sticking to a desk job, the police chief has promised he will be getting out and about, whether it is policing at a football match or on the beat checking up on the borough.
As just one of two black borough commander’s across London, Mr Springer feels he is a role model for officers looking to follow in his footsteps.
He said: “I was the only black PC in my team in Tottenham when I started, there were 800 black officers in the Met then and now there are about 3,500. It’s improved massively but it’s still not enough. London is about 40 per cent black and minority ethnic, it’s one of the most multi-culturally diverse cities in the world and the police force needs to reflect that.
“We deal with a lot of crime from people with those backgrounds so I think more officers from those communities is a good thing. I’ve never really encountered racism and if the Met was a racist organisation I wouldn’t be here.”
Stop and search has been a hot topic after the Stephen Lawrence report was launched last week and Mr Springer believes the method is still a legitimate means of crime fighting, as long as it is done courteously and without racial profiling.
He is also looking forward to the borough being the first place for the Met to trial iPads to replace notebooks . "It will make it a lot more efficient and will bring the force into the 21st Century," he said.
Mr Springer is still very new to the job and will be learning the intricacies of all the areas for a while to come but he is confident he can lead the borough’s force with a fair hand which is dedicated to keeping everyone safe.
The new borough commander will be appearing at regular crime road shows across the borough so keep your eye out for him.