Lewisham police station opened its doors to record numbers of visitors in an effort to bolster public support within the borough.
More than 3,200 people accepted the local force’s invitation to take a look behind the scenes at one of the largest police stations in Europe during its third – and biggest – open day last weekend.
The increase in numbers was not by chance, with Chief Inspector Graham Price making a concerted effort to improve support within Lewisham.
“The Met police is surveyed each year and each borough is judged on confidence in policing, and Lewisham traditionally had been at or near the bottom,” he said. “I decided we had to do something about that.”
The first step was to get advice from boroughs topping the survey, with open days found to play a key role in gaining public support.Lewisham police have also shared information with the general public about successful local programmes and have run crime prevention initiatives in Lewisham Shopping Centre to build a long-term connection with the people it is serving.
“I’d hope that we’ll get people to see that the police are here to be supportive of the community… and not something that sits on top of it and acts like an occupying army,” said Price.
The open day was well received by the public who had the opportunity to talk with specialist officers, and had access to the stables and other areas that are usually off limits.
One visitor, Matthew Carter, 40, a company director of Lee Green, said the event had gone a long way in helping put a sympathetic face to local police.
“They just open up the door and say come along… It’s good for community relations,” he said.
Price said this was the reaction he was looking for, as the support of the community runs through the work of the police “like a golden thread”.
By Niall Sargent