Catford police station is to close by the end of this year while Deptford will lose its front counter, as the Metropolitan Police continue to make cuts across the city.
Plans are in hand to eventually sell the building, saving “over £265k per year” according to Lewisham MPs.
— Lewisham MPS (@MPSLewisham) November 1, 2017
Figures released by the London Mayor’s Office show that just eight per cent of crimes were reported at police front counters in 2016, and this number is continuing to fall. On top of this, £400m of savings has to be found by 2021.
Catford Police Station had an average of 0.3 daily crime reports at the front counter, adding to the fact that the majority of front counters had an average weekly attendance of just one visit or fewer. Deptford had an average of 0.2. Lewisham, however, has an average of 5.1.
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said in a statement: “I fully share the Mayor’s commitment to keeping Londoners safe, and the men and women of the Met work tirelessly to deliver that commitment. I am confident that these changes will not impact on our ability to deliver this.
“We know that the ways in which the public want to contact us have changed, so we absolutely must transform, focusing on serving the public as best we can.
“The most effective place for our officers to be is out on the streets. Be that on patrol responding to the public, proactively out tackling crime on operations or in their communities forging stronger, better links gaining vital local information”.
Proposed plans along with the cuts include: maintaining a 24/7 police counter service in every borough; disposing of underused buildings in order to raise £165m of capital to invest in ensuring frontline police are properly equipped; police officers patrolling in crime hotspot areas so they can reach the scene of emergencies quickly; more focus on telephone services, which account for 70 per cent of crime reporting, and improved digital services.
Lewisham Conservatives have set up a petition to save Catford and Deptford police stations, so far receiving 247 signatures out of the proposed 1000. The petition states: “The Police Stations play an important role allowing residents to report crime and anti-social behaviour in the area, they are also home to a number of back office facilities and resources which benefit the whole borough.”
Ross Archer, Conservative candidate for Lewisham Mayor, said in a statement: “Over 200 residents signed my petition calling for the Mayor to abandon these proposals, many more took part in the consultation to oppose these plans, but as leaked documents earlier this year suggests Sadiq Khan always planned these closures.
“Sadiq Khan cut £38 million from the Met’s budget and rejected a motion by Conservative Assembly Members to put it back. He should stop blaming others and take responsibility for his poor decision.”
Local MP Heidi Alexander had more empathy for Khan’s position, she told EastLondonLines, adding: “Relentless government cuts posed the Mayor of London with an impossible choice between protecting the jobs of our officers or Catford Police Station.
“We all rightly want easy access to our local police but ultimately I believe he made the only responsible decision in protecting the officers on the beat who keep us safe.
“The Government need to change course on their ideological cost-cutting or we’ll soon see damaging cuts to the front-line.”