‘Anarchy in Croydon’ fears as Mayor axes 22 safety officer jobs

Neighbourhood Safety Officers work to reduce fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour, and one worker facing redundancy warns that erasing his department is ‘a complete invitation to stabbings’. By STEVEN DOWNES

Historic document: 17 years ago, the council celebrated the introduction of the NSOs

A council workers’ union is claiming that cash-strapped Croydon’s decision to axe its Neighbourhood Safety Officer team will create a surge in fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour around the borough – and possibly worse.

One union official has described the cuts as “a complete invitation to anarchy”.

The cuts, authorised by Tory Mayor Jason Perry in the council budget he pushed through last month together with his 15per cent Council Tax hike, will see as many as 22 NSOs lose their jobs, at a time when national government are talking of cracking down on anti-social behaviour.

The NSOs work with the police to investigate anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping, while also providing intelligence on other issues, including drug dealing and knife crime.

The planned cuts were originally included in the 2022-2023 budget that was passed in the last weeks of the discredited Labour administration that originally bankrupted the borough.

There has been some discussion over the introduction of private security patrols, paid for from commission from issuing on-the-spot fines, being trialled in Thornton Heath and New Addington, as replacements for the NSOs. The town centre business improvement district has already introduced bounty-hunter wardens, though not without some controversy.

The GMB union says there are 18 council NSOs and four managers who could lose their jobs if the council’s chief executive, Katherine Kerswell, carries out the decision to close the department.

Out of step: Tory Mayor Jason Perry

“Removal of the service needs a rethink because it is a complete invitation to stabbings, I don’t know what the streets of Croydon will look like without this service,” one NSO whose job is under threat, Nathan Ibe, said in a video released online by the GMB.

The union accuses Mayor Perry of being out of step with his own party leaders at Westminster.

“For our members who live in the borough and work at the council, not only are they being forced to pay an extra 15per cent in council tax, but they’re now being told they’re out of a job,” said Rachael Baylis, the GMB organiser for Croydon Council.

“GMB are fighting these cuts to our members’ jobs and the way in which Croydon Council is treating their hardworking, community-oriented staff.

“These cuts are a complete invitation to anarchy, at a time when Rishi Sunak is talking about challenging exactly this sort of behaviour. They are giving licence to anti-social behaviour across Croydon.”

Read more: Croydon put in special measures: ‘Worst of all possible worlds’
Read more: You can depend on Croydon Labour: they always let you down
Read more: Here’s the Mayor and 33 Croydon Tory councillors who THREE times voted in favour of hitting you with a 15% Council Tax hike


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17 Responses to ‘Anarchy in Croydon’ fears as Mayor axes 22 safety officer jobs

  1. Andrew Pelling says:

    The NSOs are on very modest wages and offer good value for money in combating crime and anti-social behaviour.

  2. Claudia Barrett says:

    CEO and Mayor take a pay cut and help fund the salaries of the NSOs

  3. Concerned says:

    God save Croydon

  4. j Gahda says:

    My experience of trying to get help from the NSO was they were utterley useless.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      My experiences with the NSO’s were that they were not useless, in fact quite the opposite. But the processes they had were unfit for purpose. The support for them was sparse and inconsistant and outside of the team there was little leadership or direction that led to effective resolves.

    • John Sampson says:

      What you have said is very harsh the officers worked with the remit of their powers bit you seemed to think they was your personal officers who would do whatever you said with you expecting them to act upon you ever request with out working with in their laws. You had a number of officers deal with you over the years some of the best and no one could please you. Let’s not forget you also wrote to the council to praise 1 said officer for their hard work. You became known as a pain the ass. Whst I would say Is the nso magement have let the department down with their nicking time and expecting the officers to do everything

      • Clare Goddard says:

        We need all the NSOs to remain in their posts. They all work hard to protect us. At least with the NSO officers we know where our council taxes are going.
        It’s the 4 line managers and the incredibly incompetent and incapable, Steve Iles (Director) , that should go with immediate effect.
        Most, if not all of Croydon Council Management have been promoted beyond their capabilities. Exhibiting the worst decision making at every level, ever witnessed.
        Our taxes are still paying for them to remain in office. They should not be allowed to leave with their pensions in tact. They are in debt to all Croydon residents, businesses and employees.
        Enough is enough!!!!

  5. lone ranger says:

    you also have a history of moaning about non existent issues in Princess Road. NSOs may be useless but your constant moaning was also exhausting even when the issue was resolved.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      953 Reports of Crime in a 1 mile radius. 25+between Mayo and Queens road excluding Pawsons but including Princess road by the Cemetary suggest that perhaps it is not so non existant?

      That excludes those that happened and had evidence but were deemed by the Police to require Civil enforcement first.

  6. Richard Bow says:

    Croydon is a shithole

  7. The last labour council left Croydon’s finances in such a state that cuts are necessary to get us all back on track. It was so bad that following an investigation into the financial activity of the outgoing council, their findings have been passed on to the metropolitan police!!!! The loss of the NSOs is bad, but an unfortunate and necessary measure. The new mayor gets a pass for now. But he only has a short time to demonstrate that his actions are having a positive effect on the borough’s bottom line.

  8. John Sampson says:

    The NSO management along with the director Steve Iles have let all the hard working NSO officers down.

    The managers are never there at 10pm, some are gone by 6pm, whilst the officers are still there till 10pm.

    There is a culture to cover for each other whilst throwing officers under the bus. There is also a culture of racism between some of them and also misogynistic behavior from one manager.

    The officers genuinely care about the job and Croydon whilst the managers care about themselves. The director goes on the missing list for months at a time too.

    • Clare Goddard says:

      Nicely put, John. As well as the above, is the shocking degree of UNACCOUNTABILITY within Management. To put it bluntly, the managers simply don’t care.

      My heart goes out to all the NSOs who are unjustly facing the axe. Shame on you CROYDON COUNCIL and Director STEVE LIES

      • John Sampson says:

        Thank you Clare, it’s an absolute disgrace what the some of NSO managers have got away with over the years.

        It’s a shame as over the years the NSO have lost so many good officers who really wanted to make a difference make a change make croydon a better place but instead the managers didn’t back them rather push them out. The officers have gone on to different local authorities and thrived.

        Make no doubt Croydon will be a worse place with out the NSOs but a much better place with out the managers or Steve Iles.

        • Devon Delaney says:

          Who is going to clear the travellers on Purley Way? Is this for the police or parks? Is there a team I can report these to if the NSOs go?

          Loads of them there today and not a officer in sight. What’s happened to our Croydon that we all loved

  9. Harry Heron says:

    Live within your means. Put up taxes. Cut services. Pay off your debts. Start over and learn lessons from the past. Its really that simple.

    • The lesson to be learned from 40 years of neo-con Thatcherism is that you cannot run public services as if you were running a corner shop in a provincial town or a housewife managing her house-keeping.

      Although the real aim of such an approach was always to destroy the fabric of society, whether it be the NHS, the public education system or local councils, or flogging off the utilities – water, power, the GPO – for worsened services and huge private profits.

      Here’s a comment warning “Mr Heron”: we have a rule that we will not publish comments from anyone unless they are prepared to put their name to their remarks. We won’t warn you again.

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