Croydon, Bromley, Brixton, Lewisham and Kingston are among 19 town centres around London that are to get additional police officers on the beat, the Met announced today.
The capital is to get an additional 650 police officers who, the statement from the Metropolitan Police said, “will work solely in busy public places and other areas, including those where women and girls often feel unsafe”.
This announcement comes less than a week since the murder conviction of Wayne Couzens, the serving Met officer who kidnapped Sarah Everard as she walked home in south London in March this year.
And it was yesterday that another policeman serving in the Met was remanded in custody pending a trial next month charged with the rape of a woman when he was off duty.
Dame Cressida Dick, the Met Commissioner, responded to mounting criticism by ordering a review of professional standards and internal culture in London’s police force.
In making today’s announcement of increased officer numbers, the Met clearly feels that a more visible presence in town centres will in some manner help to deter and reduce crime on the capital’s high streets.
In February and March this year, following a spate of stabbings and violent assaults, the police staged Operation Cleveland in and around West Croydon. The Met claimed that while it conducted the high-profile policing exercise, with increased levels of stop and search, there were zero robberies in the area.
Under the plans announced this morning, 500 officers will form town centre teams across the capital and will be based permanently in busy neighbourhoods.
The town centre teams will typically be made up of one inspector, two sergeants and 21 constables.
“The public regularly ask for more visible policing presence in their local areas,” the Met said. “Placing them in these locations is a really important part of how the Met is responding to helping communities feel and be safe. The extra officers will patrol at the times that will have the most impact on crime as well as on public safety, such as in the evenings.”
A further 150 officers will be added to the dedicated ward teams to serve as “beat Bobbies” (the Met’s own choice of term). These will “work with Londoners to drive down crime and problem solve local issues, including concerns raised by women about areas or individuals”.
The statement from Scotland Yard said, “It is one of the ways the Met is investing the recent increase in police officer numbers, and tackling the things that most matter to Londoners – such as driving down all forms of violent crime, including domestic abuse and violence against women and girls.”
The town centre teams follow the creation in 2020 of 12 Predatory Offender Units, which to date have arrested more than 2,000 suspects for domestic abuse, sex offences and child abuse.
“Our growth enables us to increase our presence in busy neighbourhoods and town centres and be even more focused on protecting people and solving the long-term crime and anti-social behaviour issues we know people care about most – like violent crime, and violence and harassment committed against women and girls,” said Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave.
“Local policing is at the heart of everything we do and we know that we are so much more effective if we are in communities and neighbourhoods, working side-by-side with all Londoners, listening and engaging with them, tackling the issues that make them feel unsafe.
“We want communities to regularly see and get to know their local officers, so that they trust and have confidence in them, knowing they are there to protect and keep them safe.”
The Met says it is speaking to councils about where the new teams and officers will be located.
It is expected the first tranche of teams and officers will be in place by late 2021. All 19 teams are expected to be in place by spring 2022.
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