A TOP police officer has pledged she will not take officers off the streets of Oxford’s Blackbird Leys estate, despite changes to the city’s policing arrangements.
Chief Inspector Cecilia Agger from Thames Valley Police visited Blackbird Leys Parish Council this week to talk about the estate.
She fielded questions from councillors and sought to assure them that although neighbourhood policing would soon change, no frontline officers would be lost.
Councillors had previously raised concerns the estate would “return to the days of joyriding” if any major changes were made.
But she said: “I want to assure you we will not take officers off the streets. We will not be reducing the numbers.”
Ms Agger confirmed that the city’s 22 neighbourhood teams would merge to form seven larger units to provide more round-the-clock cover.
The Blackbird Leys Neighbourhood Team will now serve Littlemore and Rose Hill as part of the Oxford South East area.
She added: “What that means is that we are changing the shift patterns so there will now be officers on seven-days-a-week, earlier and later.
“Before the Blackbird Leys team may have been unable to work on, say, a Tuesday morning, but now there will always be someone in the area.
“We will still have separate teams and the number will not be reduced. There will be more officers covering larger areas.”
The Chief Inspector was also quizzed about burglaries, vulnerable people and gangs.
She said: “In answer to the question of whether there are gangs in Blackbird Leys, yes there are.
“We are aware of gangs in the Oxford area and some of those have geographical connections to Blackbird Leys.”
Ms Agger said the force had profiled gangs and their members in the city, hierarchies within the gangs and how they operated.
She said: “These are groups which are organised and co-operate together for criminal activity, which may be drugs.
“But don’t think they are like the gangs you might see in American feature films.
“Now we have detected who they are we can work out how to target them.”
Ms Agger reassured councillors that burglaries in Blackbird Leys had dropped in recent years.
She also refused to comment on Operation Bullfinch , an investigation into an alleged child sex ring in Oxford, due to legal reasons.
“We have a number of pieces of work around the issue of vulnerability,” she added.
“We are making sure there are places for them to come and people they can talk to.”
Parish Council chairman Gordon Roper thanked the Chief Inspector – who years ago was the inspector for the Leys area – for coming to the estate.
He said: “We don’t often see people of such high ranks coming here.”