Published: 06:48 PM, 20 November 2022
Tower Hamlets (LONDON), 18 November: Tower Hamlets Enforcement Officers (THEOs) have handed out 555 anti-social behaviour warnings in one year – more than ten a week.
THEOs have police powers under section 50 of the Police Reform Act to obtain a person's details and to tackle anti-social behaviour, drugs, and violence.
The THEOs also carry out high visibility patrols to deter crime, reassure residents and offer support and advice. They work very closely with partners and agencies, signposting people who are vulnerable to appropriate partners for treatment and support.
The THEOs are celebrating 13 years since they were introduced in Tower Hamlets.
In the last year alone, they have handed out 884 fines for a range of offences such as unlicensed street trading, littering, and vehicles parked on the footpath causing an obstruction to pedestrians.
They have also given out 79 fines for nitrous oxide (NOX) use in line with the council’s Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), and confiscated more than 600 NOX silver canisters and more than 300 large NOX refill canisters.
To mark the 13th anniversary, THEOs have been sharing their motivation for signing up and the reasons why they enjoy the job.
Minerva Brown, who has been a THEO for nine years, said: “Over the last few years, we have successfully brought to task four individuals who were wanted for terrorism and grooming, by innocently going about our daily patrols. We share our intel with police, and often find we have dealt with someone for minor offences who the police have been searching for and so we can help bring people to justice.
“We have a great diversity of tasks we tackle. We have been called on approximately nine emergency incidents, in and out of borough. This includes evacuating hundreds of Tower Hamlet residents due to a War World Two unexploded bomb found in a resident’s garden, and volunteering our services to sister boroughs like the floods in Croydon, as well as the fire in Grenfell Tower. To deal with these situations requires tactfulness, thinking on your feet, and being able to reassure residents and partners.”
She encouraged other women to sign up to become THEOs, adding: “As a female I believe we brought a wealth of knowledge and diversity into the service as we often have better communication skills and can build trust with residents and partners.
“If I can do it, you can do it. Come and join our THEO family today, and make a difference in the community.”
Mahmut Ahmet, who has been a THEO since 2009, added: “I was the sort of person who was not committed to anything. However, in 2009 I got this job as a THEO and I changed as a person. I was very proud to wear the THEO uniform.
“Once in post I had a different outlook and approach. I valued my community and worked for the residents of Tower Hamlets. I was always a people person, able to communicate with people. I found the job was something I was very good at delivering, and, over the years, I have developed and progressed to a be team leader.
“In that first year of THEOs, we cut down alcohol-related ASB by 72 per cent. Since then, we have also improved the response rate to noise complaints from two days to 30 minutes, which has reduced the pressure on the police.
“THEOs were initially only going to be around for two years, but we had such an impact in our community, the residents supported the THEOs and wanted us to continue, so 13 years down the line the THEO service is still going strong.
“I am proud of what we have achieved as THEOs and although I could move on, I will live and die as a THEO. I am as proud to wear the THEO uniform now as I was over 13 years ago.”
Arifur Rahman joined the force in 2009. He said: “Being born and living in the borough, I can see the ASB and how it can affect people and their livelihoods. Being a father to three, I wanted to do something about it and play a part in making it better.
“In the nine years I have been a THEO, I know I have helped turn two people’s lives around and I have supported and helped so many others.”
Eunice Ndulaka-Okwu has been a THEO for nine years. She said: “What we do isn’t just enforcement – it is more than that. People like to see us because it gives them reassurance and makes them feel safe.
“We also speak to vulnerable people and refer them to further help if needed. The community has really supported us over the years and it is nice to be able to give back to them.”
Councillor Ohid Ahmed, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said: “Reducing anti-social behaviour is a real priority for us and we are determined to do everything we can to show people that this is not tolerated in Tower Hamlets.
“The THEOs are at the forefront of this and as these statistics show, they are making a real impact on making our communities safer and more harmonious.
“Well done to all of our THEOs for their hard-work and dedication.”