‘Force is be­ing dec­i­mated by cuts’

Lon­don Assem­bly mem­ber be­moans ‘fi­nal nail in the cof­fin for neigh­bour­hood polic­ing’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Steve Bax steve.bax@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

MONEY sav­ing pro­pos­als to axe po­lice com­mu­nity sup­port of­fi­cers (PCSOs) would be ‘the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin for neigh­bour­hood polic­ing’, says Hilling­don’s Lon­don Assem­bly mem­ber.

Dr Onkar Sa­hota is­sued his warn­ing ahead of the Metropoli­tan Po­lice man­age­ment board meet­ing on Septem­ber 29 to dis­cuss the latest cuts.

He said it would re­sult in neigh­bour­hood polic­ing teams re­duced to just a sin­gle po­lice of­fi­cer for each ward, de­spite there be­ing six of­fi­cers (three PCSOs, two PCs and a sergeant) only three years ago.

The Labour politi­cian added: “This is the clear­est sign yet that gov­ern­ment cuts are dec­i­mat­ing Lon­don’s po­lice force.

“Ax­ing all of Lon­don’s PCSOs would be the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin for neigh­bour­hood polic­ing and mean far fewer of­fi­cers on the beat in our com­mu­ni­ties act­ing as the eyes and ears of the Met.

“Lon­don mayor Boris John­son has al­ready cut neigh­bour­hood po­lice teams from six of­fi­cers to only two, ax­ing ev­ery PCSO would leave just a sin­gle of­fi­cer left to po­lice vast ar­eas of the cap­i­tal.

“With at least £800m of ex­pected cuts hang­ing over the Met, there is a real ques­tion as to whether the po­lice ser­vice as we know it will ex­ist in 10 years’ time.”

There are cur­rently 25 PSCOs in Hilling­don, all of whom could face the axe un­der the pro­pos­als, which were due to be dis­cussed yesterday (Tues­day) as the Gazette went to press.

Met Com­mis­sioner Sir Bernard Ho­gan-Howe warned ear­lier this year that large bud­get cuts could see them forced to ‘pick and choose pri­or­i­ties’, though he de­nied sug­ges­tions the force might stop in­ves­ti­gat­ing low level crimes such as bur­glar­ies.

The com­mis­sioner sug­gested the public may have to take bet­ter care of their safety and crime preven­tion in fu­ture.

Re­spond­ing to Dr Sa­hota’s crit­i­cism, Lon­don’s deputy mayor for polic­ing and crime, Stephen Green­halgh, said: “No de­ci­sions have been made about the fu­ture of neigh­bour­hood po­lice com­mu­nity sup­port of­fi­cers.

“Neigh­bour­hood polic­ing is a pri­or­ity for the mayor and we have put 2,600 ex­tra of­fi­cers into neigh­bour­hoods, as well as in­creas­ing over­all of­fi­cer num­bers to 32,000.

“There­fore, the case for any change would have to be made along­side con­sul­ta­tion.

“It is likely that tough choices will need to be made, and we are aware that the Met are con­sid­er­ing ways in which they can bal­ance the books and man­age pow­er­fully, a public pos­si­ble re­duc­tions in their bud­get be­yond 2016.”

The de­tails of the gov­ern­ment’s fu­ture fund­ing set­tle­ment for polic­ing is ex­pected to be clearer af­ter Novem­ber’s com­pre­hen­sive spend­ing re­view.

n CUTS FEARS: Dr Onkar Sa­hota

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