Mayor needs to explain his thinking behind police station closure plans

Published: Friday 22nd September 17

Councillors in Wandsworth are calling on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to explain to local people why the borough’s only 24 hour police station is earmarked for closure.

The mayor recently launched a consultation on his plans to close dozens of police stations and front office counters across the capital including the borough’s main one at Lavender Hill.

The Mayor’s proposals for Wandsworth include:

  • The closure of Lavender Hill police station to the public.
  • The removal of a daytime front counter at Wandsworth police station which members of the public can currently visit to report crimes or seek assistance.
  • An end to the use of both Lavender Hill and Tooting police stations as bases for their respective area’s safer neighbourhoods teams.
  • The ending of informal police contact sessions at a number of community locations including the Asda Supermarket at Roehampton, Battersea’s York Gardens library, St Mary’s Church café in Putney and the small police office in Nine Elms.
  • The future sale of both Lavender Hill and Tooting police stations along with another Met Police site in Ponton Road, Battersea.

According to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (Mopac) Londoners would be expected to contact the Met over the phone or online via the internet using web-based platforms or social media.

Community Services spokesman Cllr Jonathan cook said: “There is very little public awareness around these plans and so far there has been virtually no attempt by the Mayor to explain the detailed thinking behind these changes.

“Lavender Hill is the only 24 hour police station that serves Wandsworth’s 320,000 residents. It is the only one that people can go to at any time of the day or night if they need police assistance.

“If these plans proceed there is a real danger the police will become detached and remote from the communities they serve. It is important that officers are able to maintain a face-to-face dialogue with Londoners, especially when they rely so heavily on people passing on information about their concerns.

“The suggestion from his office that people should use the internet to fill in forms is going to be extremely challenging for older residents and the vulnerable or those whose first language is not English.

“And given the growing threats from cyber criminals and hackers there is an obvious risk in asking people to post sensitive information online.

“The Mayor will of course say he is only reacting to funding pressures. However I am not convinced that closing police stations is the answer. There are other efficiencies that could and should be explored before these police stations are lost to the public forever, especially when the Mayor has been unable to give us any information at all about what might replace them.

The proposals on police station closures is the latest Mayoral decision to affect crime prevention and reduction strategies in Wandsworth.

In April the Mayor announced he was to cut funding for crime prevention measures in the borough by 51 per cent from April 2018 onwards.

And in what Cllr Cook describes as “yet another blow to local policing”, the Mayor is also planning to reduce the number of London borough police commanders, which critics argue will make senior police officers more remote and make it harder for them to stay on top of local issues.

Currently Wandsworth, along with all of London’s 32 boroughs, has a chief superintendent in charge of all local policing matters and is able to respond quickly to community concerns.

Under the Mayor’s new system, this officer will be split four ways and shared between Wandsworth, Merton, Kingston and Richmond.

None of London’s other boroughs are being formed into a cluster of four. Across the capital only two or three boroughs are being joined together, prompting questions as to why Wandsworth and its three neighbours are being treated differently.

Cllr Cook added: “Wandsworth has an enviable record as inner London’s safest borough, but that success has not been achieved by accident. It is the result of very hard work across all the agencies and in large part is a reflection of the work we have done to prevent crime because we have been able to maintain a close dialogue with our borough commander to make sure they understand local priorities and local concerns.

“A 51 per cent cut in crime prevention funding and the sharing of a commander with three other boroughs is simply not a credible proposal. And closing the last remaining 24 hour police station in the borough is a step too far that risks undoing all the good work that’s been done in recent years.”

The Mayor’s consultation on his police station proposals ends on October 6.

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Recent comments

Just when you think you can no longer be surprised by Tory hypocrisy, they manage to come up with something extraordinary even for them. It is a Tory Government that has savaged police numbers, police pay and police morale. It is a Tory Government controlling the budget available to the Mayor. It is the Tories who, effectively, are responsible for police station closures. They need the money to bribe the DUP to keep them in office. Perhaps Councillor Cook would like to join me in condemning all of the above. If he does, his stance will seem principled. If he doesn't, it smacks of pure opportunism and total hypocrisy.
Michael Stone

25 September 2017

https://youtu.be/6x9eKt1Fd6g Watch watch watch this real not fake video. Stop calling people sheep when the only sheep in the room and one that follows their killer arround is you by defending the only party that is trying to drag you back to stone ages.
Hadas Hagos

25 September 2017

WOW! Wandsworth Council do you think that the locals all forget the pleasure that you took in closing down Adventure Playground / Libraries/ Sure Start / One O Clock Centres in the name of Austerity?? The policies that you and your Govt have selected to apply are the reason behind on-going closures and increased cos-cutting! Shame on you for having the gall to blame anybody else!
Elizabeth Oddono

25 September 2017

all you going on about Tory cuts! open your red eyes and see its cuts by politicians, just because they wear a blue tie does not mean the ones in red yellow or green wont do the same, because they have, labour cut back everything too, quicker you open those narrow minds to the fact all mps are shafting us the better and once the sheep realise there is no right or just party and they all shaft us. wake up sheep!
clear view

25 September 2017

Police station cuts are not a result of mayor of London it's a result of a Tory girverment cuts. https://youtu.be/6x9eKt1Fd6g Look at this YouTube showing what she started doing while she was in home office.
Hadas

25 September 2017

This article is clearly party political, mirroring the Conservative Party's current campaign to try to Blame the Mayor of London for enacting central government cuts. I refer to guidance for the use of gov.uk websites: " 5.1 Ownership and control A local authority’s .gov.uk domain belongs to that local authority. Within the constraints of guidelines for .gov.uk names, a local authority can choose its own name and that authority will be registered as the owner, with a politically-neutral officer (not elected member) as the main contact. It should not be used for political campaigning" I shall be making a complaint.
Thomas Corbett

25 September 2017

Wasn't Wandsworth Council which was making much of the amount that has to be paid for policing? They can't have it both ways. It seems to me that they are expecting others to subsidise our "low" council tax. The cut backs and change of emphasis in the Met. happened before Sadiq Khan was elected - in other words, it happened under the Tory watch. It was not under his watch that we lost our community support officer and only ever saw police in cars when there was a crime. So, as always, before pointing the finger at others, perhaps the Tories should look at their own record.
Jane Eades

24 September 2017

Between 2010-2015 the Police, forced by Cons/LibDem central govt to save £600 million. The Police have since been asked to save a further £400m by the Cons central gvt. The police statn on Battersea Br Rd has already been converted into luxury flats, despite a young man being stabbed to death close by. Knife and gun crime are on the increase. What can Wandsworth Council do to help? They can reinstate and add to the youth services, closed over past five years. They can reinstate and add support to mothers, through services closed over past five years. They can build genuinely affordable and social housing rather than luxury flats so young adults can move out of home and become independent. Lets prevent crime, not criminalise our children.
Paula Walker

24 September 2017

These proposals are not viable as Wandsworth is a big borough with needs of at least one 24 hour police station for the elderly and vulnerable people of the area. It cannot be presumed that everyone uses a computer or even a telephone nor in our multicultural borough does everyone speak English as a first language. As it is in the East Hill area there are less police and community officers that we can consult with when necessary. Non urgent crimes which are reported do not seem to get any response whatever.
Bridget Conigliaro

24 September 2017

I went into Lavender Hill Police Station a few weeks ago. There is only one officer on duty so only one person can be seen at a time. I sat down to wait as the officer was dealing with someone. After a few minutes he opened the glass door and said he would be a long time with this person. I asked how long. 'An hour' he said. I left and returned in an hour, when there was of course someone else being dealt with. I sorted out my problem on my own - others might not have been so lucky.
Franny Mae

23 September 2017

The Council should be a little more accurate in their press releases. These cuts stem from the Conservative Government move in 2010 for millions in cuts for the Me, brokered by Mayor Johnson. Retiring officers were not replaced, and Specials were used to make up the numbers. Jane Ellison said that it was not a question of numbers but of how they were deployed - at the time we had 1.5 officers on our Ward SNT. Numbers are now up, but the Government still wants 400 million pounds in cuts by 2020/21. One of the ways this can be achieved is by selling off property - on the cards even in 2010. So, e do not use this as an excuse for mayor-bashing, but look at what your own government has been doing.
susan lofthouse

23 September 2017

So pleased that Wandsworth Council is now convinced that there should be no cuts in local services
Mike Squires

23 September 2017

Police numbers are down, morale is low, now their bases are proposed to be sold off, Shameful and totally undemocratic, I suggest that the electorate of this borough be given the opportunity to have a vote on this important subject. What is the views of the elected Member of Parliament ?
John J

22 September 2017

I am appalled at these proposals which further reduce face-to-face contact with our local police. It is quite unrealistic to suggest that this can be replaced by contact through social media or on-line. A 51% reduction in crime prevention funding does not make sense.
Deborah

22 September 2017

Completely unacceptable! I thought that a Labour major was going to care more about his people; but what has Sadiq Khan done for London?
Mike

22 September 2017

THIS WOULD APPEAR TO BE A DISASTROUS PLAN. AT A TIME WHEN COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE POLICE AND THE PUBLIC IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL, TO CLOSE THE ONLY 24 HOUR POLICE STATION, REDUCE THE NUMBER OF COMMANDERS AND SHARE ONE CIEF SUPERINTENDENT BETWEEN FOUR LARGE BOROUGHS WOULD TOTALY IRRESPONSIBLE. WHERE WILL THE BASE BE FOR THE FOOT PATROLS GOING OUT INTO THE BOROUGH? PLEASE DO EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER TO STOP THIS HAPPENING.
COLIN KAYE

22 September 2017