A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Column for The Croydon Advertiser: Thanks to police who work so hard to keep us safe
13/12/2013 15:48:00


Last week, The Advertiser reported on the heart-wrenching story of a wheelchair-bound 101 year-old resident who had his life savings stolen when his home in South Norwood was burgled.

This kind of crime can have a devastating impact on people. It’s not only the financial loss and the knowledge your home is not secure - it changes how you feel about the area where you live and undermines your faith in human nature.

But in this case that faith was about to be restored because when Acting Detective Sergeant Andy Pike and his team discovered what had happened, they were moved to action. They organised a collection among their colleagues to make sure the victim wasn’t short of money with Christmas approaching. These aren’t super-rich City tycoons with plenty of cash to spare - they are public servants who have seen their salary reduced in real terms in recent years as a result of the tough decisions that I and others have had to take up at Westminster. Their actions went above and beyond the call of duty.

Last year, I spent a fascinating three days with Croydon Police. On the first day, I was assigned to the Response Team - the officers in police cars who respond to 999 calls. Our shift started at 3pm and when I left them completing some paperwork just after 10pm the officers I spent the shift with hadn't had any break at all. On the second day, I spent the morning with a detective who specialised in domestic violence cases and the afternoon with the Task Force, a team of officers that deals primarily with robbery and burglary across the borough. And on the third day, I was with a Safer Neighbourhood Team, a very different style of policing to the Task Force. On all three days, I was struck by how hard officers work.

The dedication of the police and all the emergency services in Croydon cannot be underestimated. They regularly work long and thankless hours, going above and beyond the call of duty to keep us safe. As this is the last column I’ll write before Christmas, I wanted to pay tribute to all those who work day in, day out, all year and even over the Christmas holiday period to keep us safe.

To them and to all my constituents, have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

This column first appeared in The Croydon Advertiser on 13th December 2013

UPDATE: 20th December 2013

In response to the coverage in the Croydon Advertiser and Croydon Guardian, DS Pike has been contacted by members of the public who have donated an additional £710.00 to the victim. Coupled with the funds already raised by Croydon's police that amounts to over £1,200. An incredible development.

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Readers' Comments

On 13/12/2013 19:20:00 Jim wrote:
Oh dear, "super-rich City tycoons". Playing to the audience?

Personally, I'd like to thank Croydon's emergency services too for:

1) When my mother collapsed in August - numb from waste down, I dialled 999. It was 2 HOURS before an ambulance arrived. I phoned back twice, all three times being lied to about an ambulance being on the way when it wasn't.

2) On arrival, at May-die, they didn't know what the problem was, so arranged an "urgent ambulance transfer" to St George's. It took over 5 hours to get an ambulance - again, throughout, we were being "reassured" that it would be here soon/very soon/it's on its way etc.

3) On arrival at St Georges, they weren't expecting her (despite May-die saying they had phoned ahead) so had to go through A&E a second time.

In short, dialled 999 Thursday night. It was Sunday evening before she got any treatment for her condition. And then only after I threatened to sue them. (Told Friday night a consultant would see her Saturday. Saturday told he would be in Monday, etc etc.) We had to argue and re-argue for every scan, x-ray and treatment.

After 4 months in hospital she is out now, but housebound and totally dependant on carers. We will never know whether prompt treatment would have improved her prognosis. But this is the reality of our state healthcare system. You have no choice, no bargaining power. You are at the mercy of a bureaucracy that cares only about it's own internal targets, fobs you off and prioritises doing paperwork to cover themselves. Inefficiency is rife and patients come last.

We know from plebgate that the police are not perfect - and when they investigate themselves they have the same disease as the NHS - but many do a great job albeit beaten down by a justice system that doesn't back them up.

Good luck to the wheelchair bound 101 year old. I hope my now wheelchair bound 73 year old mother will also make 101. Not if the NHS has anything to do with it, I fear.




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