Police merger now complete
NEW BASIC COMMAND UNIT IS UP AND RUNNING FOR HILLINGDON
THE merger of three police forces in West London into one command area has officially come into force.
Hillingdon, Hounslow and Ealing police now come under the control of the West Area Basic Command Unit.
The move sees the number of Metropolitan Police boroughs decrease to 12 Basic Command Units, in a merger formed in response to £325 million of government cuts.
Critics of the new scheme say they fear more centralised control will mean fewer police at local level, but supporters believe it will make it easier to allocate resources where appropriate across the city.
Each BCU will be led by a Chief Superintendent.
In Ealing, Hounslow and Hillingdon the BCU Commander is former Ealing Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Paul Martin.
He said: “I am extremely proud and honoured to have been appointed as the BCU Commander for the West Area. This is a very exciting time for me and policing of the Capital in general.
“The amalgamation of specialist departments into BCU’s which will now be co-located with our partners will provide an enhanced, cohesive service to the most vulnerable people of West London.
“It also means that resources will be able to flex across the BCU instantly as demand dictates, whilst still maintaining our commitment to local policing spearheaded by our Safer Neighbourhoods Teams.”
The West Area BCU issued a statement outlining the changes.
It reads: “Local police will come together to share people, buildings and resources across borough boundaries
“The BCUs will deliver the same core local policing functions - neighbourhoods, emergency response, CID and safeguarding - but in a more consistent way across the capital. Every ward in London will retain their two dedicated Ward Officers and a PCSO.
“The Met is changing the way we help safeguard vulnerable people by investing more resources in preventing and investigating domestic abuse, sexual offences and child abuse.
“We are introducing ‘multiagency hubs’ where police officers and child safeguarding professionals from other organisations will sit side-by-side. This means all safeguarding referrals about children will be made through the same team, improving our joint working and information sharing to protect London’s most vulnerable.”
But some Labour politicians in particular have been critical of what they see as a Tory cost-cutting measure.
Greenford MP Steve Pound said: “I don’t buy the operational case and see this very much as a further cut in service.
“Paul Martin will be a great Triborough Tsar but the reality is that the senior officer at each of the boroughs will become a de facto Borough Commander - presiding over cuts in staffing and stations.
“The root cause of the problem is the savage reduction in Met Police funding that has left my constituents feeling unsafe and insecure.”
Labour leader of Ealing Council, Julian Bell said the scheme involves big challenges.
He said: “Unrelenting cuts by the Tory Government to the Met Police budget have left the force with little choice but to combine boroughs in this new command structure.
“We are fortunate that the new BCU Commander is former Ealing Borough Commander Paul Martin who knows our borough well and I am confident that he and his officers, working with all three boroughs will make this a success.
“Speaking with other council leaders who have already moved to this new model of working I’m hopeful that the flexibility that it provides and the increased resources that are coming from the centre to focus on safeguarding work will mean that Ealing residents including some of the most vulnerable will receive a better policing service.
“The challenges however remain considerable particularly around knife crime and we will all need to work together to resolve this and other problems.”
Leader of Labour-run Hounslow Council, Cllr Steve Curran says his council is committed to making the scheme work.
He said: “It is vital that we all work together to ensure that this change is a success and as a council we are committed to this. There may be some teething issues but that is expected from a major change in how policing is delivered to our three boroughs. I wish Ch Supt, Paul Martin and his team success in their new roles and I look forward to working with them”.
I am extremely proud and honoured to have been appointed as the BCU commander Chief Superintendent Paul Martin