The deputy London mayor for policing came to Lambeth tonight to outline major changes to policing in the borough, including the closure of front counters at three police stations.
Many residents and councillors were left disappointed that the meeting, at Electric Brixton, Brixton Hill, lasted only one hour and left many concerns unanswered.
Deputy mayor Stephen Greenhalgh and the Met Police’s assistant commissioner Simon Byrne outlined how a cut of 20% to the service’s budget would affect the borough.
Front counters at Clapham, Gipsy Hill and Cavendish Road will close or remain closed, and Kennington and Streatham counters will cease to be open 24 hours per day.
Lambeth will also see a rise in only four constables by 2015, although 115 existing cops will be redeployed into Safer Neighbourhood Teams.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for community safety, said he was left disappointed by the meeting: “It was a bit of a sham, people were angry but they held it together,” he told Brixton Blog.
“I don’t think any questions were answered. They have only given us an hour and that is not good enough. It shows they’re not interested in the consultation.”
Cllr Hopkins added: “They have come and they’ve gone so they can tick a box and get on with it all anyway. We’ll continue to fight because we are here on the ground and we know what’s needed. Our experience making cuts in Lambeth is unless you do it with the support of the public it doesn’t work.”
The consultation is on the draft Police and Crime Plan as produced by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), and further meetings will take place in all London boroughs.
DepHerne Hill Cllr Leanne Target-Parker called the published increase of only four police officers in Lambeth “pathetic”.
She added: “In May 2010 we had 1031 officers in Lambeth, so we’ve lost 260 before you even start.”
Speaking to Brixton Blog, Lambeth’s borough commander Matt Bell defended the consultation meeting as a crucial part of the process.
He said: “This was the start if the process. In raising people’s awareness of the extent of the challenge around policing, and the huge cost savings that need to be made, it’s important that people hear from the top people.
“On thing to learn from tonight is that we make sure the message we give is clear, and we simplify the message if we can. For example some people think police stations are going to be shut, but sometimes it will be just the front counter closing.”
Bell said his one of his focuses will be on maintaining community policing: “I spent two years creating and introducing safer neighbourhoods and that’s where we’ve had some real success.”
He added that the closure of front counters has released 70 officers for other duties in Lambeth. He also dismissed the idea of creating so-called “Costa Coffee” police stations suggested elsewhere in the press, but instead police surgeries at set times would be organised.
Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich, was at the meeting, and told the deputy mayor that the Met Police and MOPAC had a lot of confidence building to do in Lambeth.
Crucially for some in the meeting, the senior police officers gave no assurance to the future of either Community Police Consultative Groups or Safer Neighbourhood Panels. They groups are seen my many as vital to hold the police to account in the borough.
For more information see the following:
- MOPAC presentation on draft police and crime plan (977KB)
- Draft Police and Crime Plan 2013-2017 (553KB)
- Draft MOPAC/MPS Estate Strategy 2013-2016 (293KB)