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Karen Buck MP

Westminster North Constituency Tel: 020 8968 7999 Fax: 020 8960 0150 February 25th 2013 Stephen Greenhalgh Deputy Mayor (Mayor’s Office for Policing and crime) City Hall The Queen’s Walk London SE1 Dear Stephen, Response to consultation on police premises and policing in London Below please find a number of questions and comments relating to the current consultation of policing in London, with specific reference to the issue of police premises and Safer Neighbourhood Teams. Thank you for your attention. Police premises 1. The current consultation proposes the closures of Harrow Road and St John’s Wood police stations. Please could we have an estimate for the capital receipts and the annual revenue savings from these closures (if it this is by necessity only provisional)? Without some indication of the costs/savings, it is impossible to have a sensible discussion about the alternatives.

2. Can we have some clarity about what the ‘police counter’ provision is going to look like? What are the precise purposes of the initiative in order of importance? So far, these have been discussed in the context of reporting crime (the MOPAC consultation), reporting serious crime (Stephen Greenhalgh at the consultative meeting), a base for Safer Neighbourhood Teams and ‘a drop-in policy surgery’. These are very different models of provision and stakeholder/public response to them as an alternative to the existing police stations will depend upon exactly what is being put forward. Furthermore, it is unclear so far what the minimum standards might be to ensure security, privacy and so forth.

So- if an alternative were to be a permanent, staffed office for reporting crime, with a base for police to work from, open every day, this might be a feasible alternative. If, however, we are being asked to accept the closure of 2 stations (and reduced opening hours at Paddington Green) with part-time ‘drop-in’ surgeries as the only option, this would be completely unacceptable.

3. How many ‘contact points’ are being proposed? It is absolutely essential that the wards in the north of the borough have proper access and are given the reassurance of a consistent police presence. Even though the footfall for reporting crime is reduced, this is not the only function of a police station and the ‘reassurance’ element should not be under-played. 4. The question of the numbers and purpose of the police ‘contact points’ and/or SNT bases refers back to point 1) and the question of the budget. How is it possibly to have a meaningful consultation without having any hard information to go on? I understand that Westminster Council has now been asked about potential sites for sharing/rental: presumably these discussions can’t start in the absence of any financial information? What other options are being explored and over what timescale? As one of my constituents has said to me: “ I would be perfectly happy with desks in post offices or supermarkets for reporting minor issues, getting information or booking appointments, but NOT for anything requiring confidentiality. Hate crime CANNOT be reported in a supermarket together with buying cornflakes”.

5. Can we have an absolute guarantee, consistent with the Mayor of London’s promise, that no stations will be closed until new contact points have been established?

Safer Neighbourhood Teams The ward based model of Safer Neighbourhood policing has worked well in recent years, generating a lot of good will and improving reassurance levels, despite the unwelcome reduction in the number of sergeants last year. It is vital that your proposals do not further dilute the local networks and local intelligence which has been so beneficial. I appreciate the stated intention is to release additional police into ‘neighbourhood policing’ (although the loss of 200 officers since 2010 has to be factored in) but without local organisation and leadership there is a real risk that the gains made since 2005 will be further underlimed.

6. Can we have greater clarity on the issue of SNT presence and leadership? The consultation to date has stressed that more officers will be assigned to ‘safer neighbourhood duties’: how will these teams be organised? Will the 2 officers to be assigned to each ward be ring-fenced to those specific wards or not? Will ward cluster teams be ring-fenced? How will any of the gains which have been made in recent years in building local connections and intelligence be preserved?

7. It is essential that we do not get into a situation whereby either Safer Neighbourhood police work out of a central police station some considerable distance from the wards they are meant to be based into, or (possibly even worse) ‘contact points’ are a half-hearted measure, rarely if ever open or used, and adding to public cynicism. Those of us with longer memories know that a ‘sub-station’ was established in Mozart Street in the early 1990s to counter the growing problem of drug-dealing and associated nuisance on the Mozart Estate. It was never open, and was soon abandoned, and stayed an empty hulk until (slightly ironically) a few months ago. Such an error of public policy must not be repeated.

8. I understand that an earlier proposal to move all of Westminster’s response police teams to Belgravia will not now go ahead and I support that very strongly. However, it would be useful to have a clearer understanding of what it means in terms of accommodation and the capacity at Paddington Green.

I would be grateful for a response to these questions and look forward to hearing from you. Thank you very much

Yours sincerely

Karen Buck MP

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