The borough commander held a public meeting last week to answer questions on proposals to close some of the borough’s police station front counters.
Commander Simon Messinger, together with deputy mayor for policing and crime Sophie Linden, heard residents’ concerns about the proposals, which it is estimated could save the Met £10m a year.
Deputy mayor Linden herself said at the meeting that 70 per cent of crimes from London are reported over the phone; that only eight per cent of crimes are reported at a police station.
So, on the face of it, perhaps the plan is a no-brainer. But one issue that was spoken about at the meeting does make you question whether it should be such an open and shut case – and that is the reassuring factor that a police presence has on a community. Sophie Linden acknowledged the effect such closures could have: “I understand that a police counter closing in the community is like police withdrawing from a community.”
Read the story: Police face public over proposal to close front counters
This is not a new debate. Some years ago when police were closing other stations, they argued that they would have a better response time to crimes if they operated out of just a few bases. That may have been right, but residents said they felt seeing bobbies on the beat, the police having a visible presence, gave them more reassurance. Southwark Inspector Jim Cole said developer British Land was looking into providing a police ‘facility’ as part of its Canada Water Masterplan. So perhaps this is the answer? If the police are compelled to close their own stations’ front counters, perhaps they should seek to find outside companies who could help them establish bases?
We’ve reported several times how people in Rotherhithe have been affected by anti social behaviour, and on the menace of moped-riding robbers committing crimes across the borough. That, to us, demonstrates that the police need to keep a presence – just having them in the community may deter criminals and also reassure residents.