Barnet Police Cuts – The Facts
Barnet Police Cuts – The Facts
The Deputy Mayor for Policing graciously offered Barnet residents one hour of his valuable time to listen to his spin on Boris Johnson’s policing plan. This meeting was hastily arranged on Monday 14th January at 7pm at Hendon Town Hall, The Burroughs, NW4 4AX. Due to the snow you may have missed the meeting. I wanted to make sure you have the facts. To contribute online during the consultation period, please visit http://www.smart-survey.co.uk/v.asp?i=67232epffs
The Mayor says there will be more police officers. That is true, compared to now. It is true compared to the date he has picked as his comparator base year: 2011. He chose that year as it was at the time of a police recruitment freeze and numbers had dropped dramatically. His claim of extra officers is based on an end date of 2015.
We say a fairer comparison is May 2010, when the Coalition Government came to power and inherited the police service from Labour, with that 2015 date, when the Coalition ends and the next election is due.
For Barnet: total police officers in post, May 2010: 595
Projected number of officers for 2015: 564
Net loss of officers 2010 to 2015: 34
Note that this is at the end of the 2015 period, too: it will take 2 years to get there, so for most of the time between now and then, the shortfall will be greater. The current shortfall is 75 officers. (520 officers in post, October 2012, last available figures)
Safer Neighbourhood Teams’ size
I believe everyone agrees that our ward based SNTs have been a great success in deterring crime, providing reassurance, gathering intelligence, and dealing with anti social behaviour. Each Barnet SNT had 9 officers in May 2010: 1 sergeant, 2 PCs and 6 PCSOs. (Included in the above numbers), in total the Borough then had 189 officers, sergeants and PCSOs, ring fenced to the ward and dedicated to SNT work.
For Barnet: total SNT officers (Sgts, PCs, PCSOs) in post , May 2010: 189
Projected number of officers for 2015: 135
Net loss of SNT officers 2010 to 2015: 54
Currently, each team in Barnet is now down to about half the original strength of 9.
Safer Neighbourhood Teams’ duties
Under the Mayor’s plan, each SNT will have just 2 officers actually allocated to the ward, compared to the 9 as of May 2010. This change is reminiscent of the unsuccessful old days of just one beat officer per ward, before SNTs were introduced by the previous Labour administration. Already, the remainder of the SNT is no longer ring fenced to work only in your ward, but can be deployed to deal with problems elsewhere in the “cluster” to which they are attached, under an Inspector. There are 4 clusters in Barnet, each slightly smaller than our 3 parliamentary constituencies. The SNTs are also being given extra duties, which is not unwelcome but they are not being adequately resourced to do those duties.
These changes look very much like a return to the old pre SNT “sector based” policing model which did not work and was why SNTs were brought in. these new arrangements are SNTs in name only and will lose many of the local benefits that made SNTs so successful.
Police Station closures to the public
The police stations at Barnet and Whetstone are to close their doors to the public completely, meaning there will be no police station open to public access in the east of the borough at all.
In the south, I am pleased that our campaign to save Golders Green Police Station from complete closure appears to have been successful, but it will only be open for shorter hours, probably just 40 hours per week. However I understand that the Borough Commander would prefer to close Golders Green and keep Barnet open on these shorter hours.
The only station open round the clock will be Colindale in the west of the borough, which is not readily accessible to thousands of people who live in the east of Barnet in particular, but also to many who live in the south too.
The Mayor justifies this on the basis that crime is now reported more by phone, which may well be true, and that a victim of crime can have a face to face meeting with an officer which is welcome. But that cannot be the end of the story for the rape victim or the victim of domestic violence, or of a gang attack, or even someone who wants to hand in a knife or other offensive weapon.
The proposed replacements are police “contact points”. – but these will be just 4 hours per week stalls in supermarkets, coffee shops, post offices, or other public buildings- we don’t know where they will be, and the Mayor has yet to get the owners of these buildings to agree to letting the police use them in this way. We do not believe this is in any way a suitable alternative, for those who wish to discuss or report confidential or embarrassing matters.
And finally, is it really right for Mayor Boris Johnson to politicise the police as he has, by requiring senior officers to explain and justify his cuts?