Southwark and Lambeth police will be merged into one new ‘Basic Command Unit’ in a drive to save costs, the London Met announced today.
Currently each of London’s 32 boroughs has its own police department, but these will be transformed into twelve Basic Command Units, with Lambeth and Southwark becoming one force.
Scotland Yard says the change will mean a more streamlined service as each unit will roughly cover the same geographical sized area.
It also said teams will be able to operate across borough boundaries and respond to emergencies more efficiently.
As the News reported in June last year, the initiative was trialled in Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering, and Camden and Islington from January 2017.
The scheme will now be rolled out across London within the next twelve months.
Harriet Harman and Neil Coyle have strongly opposed the proposals.
The Camberwell and Peckham MP previously warned: “I am totally opposed to merging the boroughs.
“The working relationship that’s built up between Southwark Borough Command and their team with the communities in Southwark and with the council are of huge importance, and need yet further work, not diluting across two boroughs.
“Coordination between the two boroughs on issues like gang crime is important but this doesn’t need a borough merger.
“This is driven not by the needs of people living in Southwark, or the police, but by cuts.”
The move comes as part of a cost-saving drive across the policing service which has ordered to make savings of £325 million by the financial year 2021-22.
In tandem, officer numbers are also expected to fall to 30,000 by this April and even further in the next three years.
As well as an increase in enquiries dealt with over the phone, the Met has also committed to setting up ‘multi-agency hubs’ where police officers and child safeguarding professionals from other organisations will work together to protect vulnerable children.
In a statement issued this morning, the Met said: “We need to plan for a future with less, and become more resilient so we can continue to meet our financial and operational challenges, and our current and future policing challenges – terrorism and safeguarding in particular.
“Without significant changes in how we manage our resources we would be unable to meet these head on.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons said: “Our new structure will also give us the resilience and consistency we need across the whole of London, so we can continue to respond to large scale incidents and meet the financial and operational challenges we are facing.”