Southwark could lose all of its Police Community Support Officers [PCSOs] in one fell swoop if cuts to neighbourhood policing go ahead this month.
The borough’s neighbourhood policing teams could be reduced to one single police officer per ward (down from three PCSOs, two PCs and a sergeant just three years ago) if the Met’s management board approves the proposed cuts at their meeting.
There are currently 33 PCSOs in Southwark, according to the latest Met Police data, all of whom could all face the axe in this latest round of funding cuts.
Labour’s London Assembly Member for Lambeth & Southwark, Val Shawcross, described the plans as “the final nail in the coffin for neighbourhood policing.”
“This is the clearest sign yet that Government cuts are decimating London’s police force… and mean far fewer officers on the beat in our communities acting as the eyes and ears of the Met,” she said.
The cuts would come on top of previous reductions in PCSO numbers, with 110 support officers (or 77 percent) lost from Southwark’s streets since May 2010.
The police confirmed a reduction in PCSOs was on the cards as the Met is expected to save at least £800 million over the next four years.
Commander Lucy D’Orsi, who is leading the neighbourhood policing project, said: “Like local communities we very much value PCSOs and their role in community engagement – they have been an integral part of the Safer Neighbourhoods model from the start. However, the financial pressures we are facing mean that we have a duty to consider all options available, in order to meet those challenges and to ensure we deliver a quality policing service to London’s communities.”
Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy London Mayor for Policing and Crime, said no decisions had been made as yet and neighbourhood policing remained a priority for the Mayor, Boris Johnson.
“We have put 2,600 extra officers into neighbourhoods, as well as increasing overall officer numbers to 32,000. Therefore, the case for any change would have to be made powerfully, alongside a public consultation,” he said.
“It is likely that tough choices will need to be made, and we are aware that the Met are considering ways in which they can balance the books and manage possible reductions in their budget beyond 2016,” he added.