Last week the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the Metropolitan Police Service published a Public Access and Engagement Strategy for consultation, which identifies some of the changes that may need to be made to ensure that our police force can continue to operate efficiently and to continue to keep us safe.
This follows years of cuts to our local police force’s funding by central government. The consultation documents note that on top of the £600m already saved from the Metropolitan Police Service’s budget, a further £400m worth of savings has to be found in the coming years. £200m of these savings have already been identified, but it is clear that tough choices will have to be made.
Some of the proposals which could affect my constituents include the proposed moving of the 24/7 counter service from Bexleyheath Police Station to Marlowe House, Sidcup. It is then proposed that Bexleyheath Station will be disposed of. It appears that the statistics around police station effectiveness seem to focus on number of crimes reported at the station desk but the public go to a police station for many more reasons than that. I think we need to look again at all of the reasons why the public go into Bexleyheath Police Station and how they will be effected by its proposed closure and I will certainly be asking a number of questions about that.
There are also proposals around the replacing of 4 Safer Neighbourhood bases at Joyce Dawson Way, Thamesmead; Limestone Walk, Thamesmead; Pier Road, Erith; and Lakedale Road, Plumstead. These bases are proposed to be replaced by hubs allowing for the police to be much closer to the communities they patrol.
There is also a commitment to wherever possible, protect frontline police officers, to invest in the equipment needed for a truly 21st century police force, and new measures to investigate new and emerging crime types such as cyber-crime.
There will be a new way to report crime online and a commitment to enhancing the role of dedicated ward officers – who have a specific responsibility to engage with their local community. I often hear from people concerned about slow response times from the police and any new ways of working that make it easier for the public to contact the police and get a response should be welcomed.
Nobody wants to see police stations close, and I strongly believe that our emergency services need as much support and investment as possible so they can continue to keep us safe. Yesterday’s news that police officer figures across England and Wales are lower than ever before, while the number of reported crimes has gone up by more than 10%, and even higher rises for violent crimes and murder, will undoubtedly heighten concern at the savings that are having to be made.
There are obviously questions that need answering further, particularly around the potential closure of police buildings , and the impact that could have on operational issues such as response times, public facing services and back office facilities and on police officers themselves. I will certainly be writing to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime to raise these questions, but I would urge everybody to read the consultation documents and have your say.
The consultation will close on 6 October 2017 at 5.30pm and you can respond by visiting www.london.gov.uk/public-access or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to: Public Access Consultation, MOPAC, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2AA.
And as always, if anybody wishes to raise an issue with me directly they can email me on email@example.com