Having already had the majority of the borough’s police stations closed under the current Conservative Mayor of London, yesterday saw an announcement from the Metropolitan Police that it is to shut five of Croydon’s community bases for its safer neighbourhood officers – one-third of the total cuts across the city.
Croydon’s 13 neighbourhood bases will be reduced to eight, as our borough – with its Tory London Assembly Member Steve O’Connell standing by idly – takes the biggest hit, little more than four years since Croydon was one of the worst areas affected by the 2011 London riots.
Neighbouring Bromley will also lose five safer neighbourhood bases in the latest round of cost-cutting to London’s already over-stretched police force.
With fewer bases, it could take officers longer to reach incidents.
“Croydon was hit hard by the London riots in 2011,” Steve Reed OBE, the Progress MP for Lambeth South/Croydon North [delete to taste] told the Evening Boris. “Now we find Croydon is set to lose five neighbourhood police bases — one of the biggest cuts in London in London’s biggest borough.”
Displaying an unfortunate choice of vocabulary, given the topic he was addressing, Reed added: “With violent crime and domestic violence still on the rise, this is a real kick in the teeth.”
Croydon will go from one base for every 28,926 people to one for every 47,005, under the proposals, which the Met says will save £123,000 in the first year and £423,000 annually thereafter.
According to documents from MOPAC, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, the safer neighbourhood bases are no longer needed because of the roll-out of “coffee with a copper” sessions. O’Connell takes an extra wedge of cash each year because he sits on the board of MOPAC – as its special adviser on … neighbourhoods.
Croydon and Sutton’s Tory Assembly Member appears to have overseen a MOPAC document which recommends the biggest cut for Croydon because his own borough has a “disproportionately high number” of deployment bases.
Scotland Yard told the Evening Boris that the bases would be “decommissioned in the next few months”. It used the same argument as in 2013 when it axed the majority of the borough’s police stations, including in Kenley, the very ward which O’Connell is supposed to represent on the council: savings on real estate will enable the Met to maintain police on the beat.
But at 32,000 officers, police numbers across London remain fewer than in 2010, before David Cameron first became Prime Minister.
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