Crime figures are certain to fall in the next few years, according to a serving policeman. Why? Because the cross-London cuts proposed by Boris Johnson will make it more difficult than at any time in recent history for the public to report crime.
Five of Croydon’s six police stations face closure under the proposals. A move that could see the police in future staffing “front desks” in post offices and supermarkets might even cost some Londoners their lives, according to an anonymous police blog.
“Crime is bound to fall even further when future cuts to police call-centres are announced. No victim of crime wants to wait in a post office queue with the local busybodies listening while they tell the Old Bill what has happened to them. In some areas of London, being seen and overheard talking to the ‘Five Oh’ at a supermarket desk could be fatal,” the Inspectorgadget blog posted yesterday, soon after London Mayor Boris Johnson had announced his latest wizard wheeze.
The more you think about it, the more crass and self-serving the police cuts appear, especially here in high-crime Croydon. After all, what victim of violent crime, maybe someone subjected to domestic violence, or a rape victim, is going to want to report their assault near the tills at a branch of Tesco?
As a rule of thumb, whenever significant changes are proposed to the management and operation of a service, it is always a good idea to speak with the people on the ground, the “poor bloody infantry” who ultimately will have to make the latest bit of nonsense actually work.
Thus, in search of insight into whether closing 65 police stations across London is a “good idea”, we turn to Inspectorgadget. The boys (and girls) in blue are profoundly unimpressed.
“If you asked police officers in the Metropolitan Police whether they would base local officers in supermarkets and Post Offices for operational reasons, they would probably say ‘no’,” they wrote yesterday after the announcement of the cuts.
“If you asked the Met if they wanted to close their specialist teams and send everyone back to local uniformed policing roles to make crime fighting more effective, they would probably reject the idea.”
We need to assume that Inspectorgadget really is written by a genuine member of the Old Bill, since it is anonymous – on the grounds that the author would probably be drummed out of the force if anyone ever found out who it was airing such disaffection publicly.
But in extremis situations as are being created by Boris Johnson and the Metropolitan Police authority’s recommendations for £500 million in cuts, it is essential to hear from grassroots police.
Because this is the reality of policing in London in 2013: “The new so-called ‘local police officers’ simply spend their whole time case-file-building on the phone, prisoner handling in custody or running about trying to get their hands on CCTV, statements and forensic exhibits. They never actually get out on patrol,” Inspectorgadget says.
“If you asked… officers if they thought it was a good idea to run the new ‘response hubs’ from miles away, with less emergency response staff and vehicles, they would say ‘no’. But all these things have, or are about to be done.
“They are happening because of huge budget cuts.”
And the author then makes a most apt point about the role of senior police officers in these cuts to the police service: “It is time that senior police officers stopped trying to sell this nonsense as some kind of ‘new and effective way to police communities’. They are doing it because the government has taken away their money…
“…No one came to power promising to cut 15,000 police jobs, close front counters and abolish specialist police teams while maintaining £446 million aid payments to a country which can afford to run a nuclear arsenal. Think about it.”
You might also wish to consider how Boris Johnson, Gavin Barwell, the MP for Croydon Central, and Waddon councillor Simon Hoar are all cheerily endorsing this hollowing out of the police service.
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