By Jennifer Adetoro and Luisa Bider
At least five police stations across the Eastlondonlines boroughs face closure by the end of the year due to the £400m cuts made by the Government in the Metropolitan Police budget.
Those that face closure are Shoreditch police station in Hackney, Brick Lane and Limehouse in Tower Hamlets, and Catford and Deptford in Lewisham, while the public counter at Windmill Road in Croydon will be closed.
Despite crime increasing over the last 12 months in three out of the Eastlondonlines four boroughs, the closures are among 37 planned across the city in the next two months under the budget cutbacks approved by Mayor Sadiq Khan.
This leaves just one 24-hour police station in each borough across London. To compensate, the Met is planning on doubling by the end of the year the number of police officers patrolling crime hotspots, where they will be based at new ward-level hubs.
Earlier in June, representatives from Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Croydon were among council representatives from 20 other London boroughs who issued an open letter to the Government calling for the cuts to be scrapped.
The letter said: “We urge the government to reconsider their cuts to our police services at a time of heightened public concern and to work with the Mayor of London and local authorities to keep our police stations open and the police visible and accessible to the public.”
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said: “The Government might think cutting police budgets is acceptable but we do not. Tower Hamlets is committed to working with and investing in the police to protect residents.”
As reported by Eastlondonlines here, the Met has also said that it has not yet approved plans by Biggs to increase the number of council funded beat officers in the borough to tackle an upsurge in low level drugs and vandalism.
Hackney council has also launched a campaign, “Foot The Bill”, which calls on the Government to properly fund London’s police service.
— Hackney Council (@hackneycouncil) November 8, 2017
Despite the crime rate in Hackney increasing by 12 per cent, police cuts have caused Hackney to lose one in four officers since 2010, with figures falling from 770 officers in October 2010 to 576 in April 2017.
“Our police do a fantastic job in Hackney, but years of pioneering work to bring crime down is being put at risk by short-sighted cuts to the police, and now crime is now going up” – @CarolineSelman
— Hackney Council (@hackneycouncil) 15 November 2017
In addition to the campaign, the council have written to the Home Secretary and are urging both residents and businesses to express their concerns.
Conservative Candidate for Mayor of Lewisham Ross Archer said: “Closing these two police stations would leave Lewisham’s police too centralised. Lewisham is a big borough and we need more than one police station. That’s why we are running this petition.”
MP for Lewisham East Heidi Alexander told East London Lines earlier this year: “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.”
Khan said: “Keeping Londoners safe is my number-one priority. Supporting officers out on the beat in our communities is more important than keeping open buildings that are simply not used by the vast majority of the public, and where just eight per cent of crimes are reported.
“Nevertheless, I understand and share some of the very legitimate concerns of Londoners about these closures. That is why we held the widest possible consultation with public meetings in every London borough and we have listened very carefully to the feedback.”
Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, added: “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 and gaining vital local information”.