The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe today conceded that the balance of the Mayor’s neighbourhood policing teams had “gone the wrong way” and is being reviewed, while Boris Johnson admitted that the local model needs to “be improved”. Following the restructure, Westminster has lost 435 Police Officers (27%) and 296 PCSOs (78%) while London has recorded the third lowest police visibility rate in the country.
The Mayor reorganised Safer Neighbourhood Teams a year ago, replacing the old ‘123’ structure (one Sergeant, two PCs and three PCSOs per ward) with a model in which each ward had just one dedicated PC and PCSO, with ‘flexible’ neighbourhood teams overseeing these wards.
At a meeting of the Police and Crime Committee today, after questioning from Joanne McCartney AM, the Commissioner stated that he believed there was a need for “more dedicated officers” in wards. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, also admitted that the Met’s contact points, which Boris promised would provide an “equivalent or better service” than police counters, were “not being well used”, and that a full review of the contact points will be conducted. Figures released this week showed that contact points dealt with just an average of 1.3 people per week.
Commenting on the session, Murad Qureshi AM, said:
“I have long been calling for the Mayor to come clean and admit that his cuts to neighbourhood police teams have resulted in less visible police in our local communities. While this admission is welcome, we now need to get on and put a plan in place to reinstate dedicated officers to our neighbourhoods.
“I am also pleased it was recognised that contact points are not providing an acceptable service for Londoners. Since 2010 we have seen a reduction of nearly 5,000 uniformed officers across the capital, coupled with the withdrawal of dedicated officers from local neighbourhoods. A rethink is clearly needed.”
- Murad Qureshi AM is a Labour London wide Assembly Member.
- The MPS has the third lowest proportion of officers that are deemed ‘visible’ in England and Wales 2013-14, at 52%. (Value for Money Profiles, HMIC, November 2013, p 43).
- A webcast of yesterday’s session can be viewed online here.