DISMAY AT CLOSURES OF POLICE FRONT COUNTERS
POLITICIANS and the public have reacted with dismay to the police front counter closure announcement on Wednesday November 1.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said a string of stations will close across the city, with Ealing, Southall, Fulham, Uxbridge, Chiswick in west London all set for the chop.
The futures of Pinner and Ruislip stations are still uncertain, with both still under consideration.
The move has been condemned by opposition politicians, who blasted the consultation process.
Mr Khan said he had been left with no choice but to shut more than half of the capital’s 73 remaining police front counters because of government cuts on police funding.
These include Notting Hill Station, close to Grenfell Tower, which is set to receive a temporary front counter for two years under the plans.
Guy Oliver has signed the Save Notting Hill police station petition along with 2,367 other people.
He said: “In the light of the recent tragedy of Grenfell and the obvious need for community policing in this area, there is the additional special importance of fostering good and ongoing local, national and international relationships for the annual carnival.
“It seems utter folly to close Notting Hill, it is not just a neighbourhood police station.”
The station falls in Labour MP Emma Dent Coad’s Kensington constituency and she put the blame firmly at the government’s doorstep.
She said: “Kensington residents will be distraught at the loss of Notting Hill police station in Ladbroke Grove – as am I.
“It is disappointing and frankly indefensible that the Home Secretary refused to listen to the Mayor of London’s pleas for funding to maintain local policing levels and keep our station open.”
Justifying the closures, Mr Khan has pointed to a high percentage of crimes being reported online or by phone.
Ms Dent Coad welcomed the temporary station, but warned: “It is not enough to state that people can report crime online – many of our visitors to the area, as well as our most vulnerable residents, do not have IT access, and would not know how to use it if they did.
“Serious youth violence in North Kensington is increasing, and white collar crime such as drug use, ‘high class’ prostitution and online fraud are under-reported.
“How can we maintain vigilance and improve crime prevention with the loss of this station?”
Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry said: “Within just three weeks off the back of a rushed consultation the Met has announced barely a single change to their plans to close stations and front counters across London.
“Even in Notting Hill, the police station which is needed more than ever now will be closed. Although a replacement front counter has been announced, the local community can rightly suspect this will only be temporary.
“The people around Grenfell Tower deserved better.”
West Central’s Conservative London Assembly member Tony Devenish believes a decision was reached before feedback from the consultations was examined.
Hoping for a judicial review, he said: “As long ago as August my residents knew the public consultation was a box ticking exercise – the Deputy Commissioner let slip in an interview that my high land value police stations were ‘a goner’.
“Sadiq Khan has a legal duty to consult without a predetermined outcome.”
A spokesman for Kensington and Chelsea Council, which opposed the closure of Notting Hill station, said crime rates in the north of the borough was high and required immediate blue-light response.
He also criticised the temporary Grenfell plan, saying community contact sessions were “poor substitutes for police stations”.
London mayor Sadiq Khan
(Left) London Assembly member for West Central Tony Devenish; (right) Green mayoral candidate Sian Berry
Uxbridge police station