Po­lice merger now com­plete


Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - by MARTIN ELVERY martin.elvery@reach­plc.com Lo­cal Democ­racy Reporter

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

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