Public accountability at risk following decision to merge police commanders
Published: Tuesday 13th February 18
The council’s community safety spokesman Jonathan Cook is warning that a controversial decision to merge police commanders across London risks making senior officers less accountable to the communities they serve.
Last month Cllr Cook called on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to have an ‘eleventh hour’ rethink of his proposal to merge police commanders, as part of a cost saving exercise.
But yesterday (Monday) it was announced that the change is going ahead.
Now instead of Wandsworth having its own individual borough commander in charge of local policing – this senior officer is to be shared with the boroughs of Merton, Richmond and Kingston.
In most other parts of London the commanders are serving two local authority areas. None of London’s other boroughs are being formed into a cluster of four - prompting questions as to why Wandsworth and its three neighbours have been treated differently.
Observers have argued the Mayor’s change will make senior local police officers less accountable and much more remote from the communities they serve and make it harder for them to focus on local issues and concerns.
Cllr Cook said: “Unfortunately the Mayor has not yet listened to the concerns and misgivings that many of our residents feel about this policy change.
“Instead of serving a population of around 320,000 people, our new shared commander will be responsible for managing the day-to-day policing needs of around 900,000 Londoners.
“And instead of covering a 13 square mile patch, he or she will now have to look after a geographical area that’s five times bigger, stretching to almost 66 square miles.
“This new management structure will inevitably make senior officers more distant and less accountable to the communities they serve and less able to concentrate on important local issues.
“And unlike anywhere else in the capital, our chief superintendent will also have to cover three other boroughs, each with their own needs and priorities and their own very distinct local problems.
“It is not too late for the Mayor to pause and reflect carefully on whether or not he should proceed with this change. We are today repeating our call for him to reverse this decision and abandon this plan to over-stretch our local police commander.”