South Norwood police station looks set to be closed, the latest in a series of blows for the fabric of Croydon society.
After the axing of Croydon’s art activities, the possible
“out-sourcing”asset-stripping of the borough’s libraries and the closure of some youth services, now local Accident & Emergency and maternity units are under threat, while less than six months after the 8/8 riots, police numbers in the town centre are to be more than halved. And meanwhile major employers Nestle, CIPFA and Bank of America are leaving town.
To adapt one of The Sun‘s more notoriously partisan headlines, will the last person left in Croydon please turn out the blue lights?
The closure of the police station in Olive Grove in South Norwood, one of five currently operational within Croydon, will see a significant loss of staff. Local neighbourhood policing is also being cut back in the north of the borough: the Thornton Heath Safer Neighbourhood Team will see officer numbers axed from four to one, and the number of PCSOs reduced from six to three.
Wayne Lawlor, a local Labour councillor for South Norwood, says that the closure of the police station belies claims by the Conservative group in charge of Croydon Council that police numbers are increasing.
One reason for the closure could be that Croydon’s new Borough commander, David Musker, has to reduce operating budgets, and losing the cost of maintaining buildings will help him keep more police officers on the beat.
Speaking last month about a review of the Met’s building stock, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said, “We are reviewing the whole of the property estate to ensure we are making best use of it and identifying efficiency savings that can be reinvested into operational policing. As part of this we are also looking at police facilities in Croydon.”
This was seen as putting some of the police’s older station buildings, such as in Kenley, under threat of closure. Across the borough boundary in Wallington, the “For Sale” sign has stood outside the grand old Edwardian police building there for several months.
But the present South Norwood police station building has only been in operation since the 1980s. If it is closed, the nearest bases for police operations will be in Norbury, or the main station in central Croydon, although at some stage there will be a new custody suite built at Windmill Road in Selhurst.
“I don’t want to see the busy High Street in South Norwood without a police station,” Stuart Collins, Croydon Labour’s public safety spokesman, said. “Local people need a visible presence for the police where they can go and report crimes.”
Inside Croydon contacted Steve O’Connell, Croydon and Sutton’s London Assembly Member, for his views on the possible closure of South Norwood police station – O’Connell was a senior member of the Metropolitan Police Authority until January, when the MPA was closed down and London Mayor Boris Johnson assumed overall responsibility for policing in the capital.
O’Connell was understood to be attending a meeting of City Hall’s Police and Crime Working Group this afternoon.
Last month, when possible closure of Kenley police station was aired, O’Connell – who is a Croydon ward councillor for Kenley – said, “I am absolutely committed to making sure Kenley police station stays open. It is in an important strategic location in the borough and I will do everything in my power to make sure that it stays.”
Today, we asked O’Connell to comment on the “strategic” importance of South Norwood police station.
O’Connell, who was paid £112,000 of Council Tax-payers’ money in 2011 for his various roles as a public servant, plus a wedge of pension contributions, refused to answer our calls or emails.
- Inside Croydon: brought to you from the heart of the borough, free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
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