The Metropolitan Police has told a local authority in south London not to put up extra funding for additional officers – because they can’t recruit to fill the positions that already exist.
The development should be a worry for other councils, such as Croydon, and those areas which have Business Improvement Districts, which raise cash to pay for additional policing.
Since 2015, Kingston council has paid £400,000 a year, match-funding from the Mayor of London, for 12 officers to be stationed in Kingston town centre to deal with anti-social behaviour and crime in the area. Croydon town centre, through Croydon BID, has additional police officers on the beat for similar reasoning.
Now the police is holding the line over how it deploys its officers. In the past there has been suggestions that some areas, such as Croydon BID, have had better policing levels simply because businesses have paid for officers, to the detriment of other, less well-funded districts.
BBC London is reporting that Sally Benatar, the chief superintendent of the South West London Basic Command Unit (BCU), said she “wouldn’t support” any plans for a council to fund police officer posts. She said falling numbers and difficulties in hiring the “extra” officers under the scheme, would mean they would not be new staff, but just officers diverted from other areas.
The South West London BCU was formed last year and covers four boroughs – Wandsworth, Richmond, Merton and Kingston. Benatar has responsibility for around 1,300 staff in that area.
“I need to make decisions as to where to hold vacancies in the workforce in order to make best use of resources to manage operational demand,” Benatar said.
“While we are working hard as an organisation to reduce vacancies and recruit officers, I would not want to fill any additional funded posts by moving officers from core roles elsewhere on the BCU.
“This would limit my ability to use resources flexibly to manage the wide range of policing demand, which of course includes the policing of Kingston town centre.
“For these reasons I wouldn’t support a plan by the council to fund additional police officer posts at this time, for Kingston town centre or elsewhere.”
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