Victoria Diamond reviews the MOPAC meeting on the future of policing in Wandsworth
The meeting was quite well attended - at least 100 people there. There were a lot of Councillors, local M.P's and officials, as well as residents, who had serious questions they wanted to ask. (I’ve tried to give as comprehensive report-back as I can.)
The MOPAC Panel : Chief Superintendent David Chinchen, Deputy Mayor for Policing Stephen Greenhalgh, Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne, and Jonathon Glanz, a Westminster Councillor who is an advisor to the Mayor. The meeting was chaired by Helen Bailey, Chief Operating Officer for MOPAC. (MOPAC = Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime)
They Panel went through the 14 page presentation, which had the following points on the plan for London and for Wandsworth:
• Reduce spend by 20% Reduce court delays by 20% Cut youth offending by 20%
• Increase compliance with community sentences +20%
• 2013 – 37 senior managers, 7160 supervisors, 24,630 police constables
• 2015 - 26 ‘’ 6022 ‘’ 25,909 ‘’
• Reduce running costs by 30% from sale of buildings – 497 buildings to 300
• By 2016 reduce numbers of staff from13,410 to 11,846 London wide
• £100m savings on technology
• 5% reduction in services and supplies
• 1200 more officers in boroughs, 2600 more SNT London wide
• Dedicated Borough commander and locally accountable Inspector
• In Wandsworth this means 564 officers in 2011, and 579 by 2015
• there were only 50 crimes reported overnight at front counters
• online reporting is and will increase
• 5m 999 and 101 calls last year
• CLOSING BATTERSEA, WANDSWORTH, TOOTING, PUTNEY FRONT COUNTERS
• To be a non 24 hour front counter at Wandsworth
• To be a 24 hour counter at Battersea/Lavender Hill
The floor was then opened to questions but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to answer all the questions. It did feel rather rushed.
There was a question about the cutting of Senior Managers and Supervisors, and how that was going to be detrimental, both in redundancy costs and the loss of expertise, and the response was that they weren't going to use redundancy, but more the 30 year retirement method.......and the knowledge would be 'passed on'.
There will be 1 police officer (a named sergeant) and 1 PCSO in every ward in Wandsworth. These officers won’t be moved around and it frees up 'more boots on the beat'. The Neighbourhood Inspector will be held to account. Each neighbourhood team will have a broader remit to cut crime, support victims and tackle offending. They will be supported by teams of officers who will provide patrolling and responsive back up support
They want 'police to come to us, rather than us go to them'. Say that this is a more efficient use of funds. This is in response to the closure of the front desks. If you have a problem, ring them and they will come to you in your home. 999 or 101, depending on the urgency of course.
There were some good slogans : Putting Bobbies before buildings (this is reference to the sale of many under-utilised police buildings, including New Scotland Yard!)
And ‘more boots on the beat’ with reference to the increase in police numbers
Concerns were raised about young offenders – emphasis more on punishment currently. More needs to be done regarding help and re-settlement.
Complaints were made that Wandsworth has been given funding as if it was an outer borough, when in fact it really is an inner borough. This was noted by the Police Panel. A serious and important issue.
Also noted were complaints that schools were losing the allocation of police officers, who, in the past, have built a rapport with children, which was good for the future. They said that they would hope to be able to assign one officer per secondary school, if that school wants one.
Also the loss of an officer who used to visit care homes and vulnerable elderly etc. This has been sorely missed. If someone wants to report abuse, for example, the phone may not be the safest way, and a visiting officer could help a lot. Again, this was noted and perhaps something can be done to re-instate this.
There were questions about gangs and how the police will be able to deal with them, rioting (could they deal with riots if they happened again), gun crime (there’s been an increase in the number of gun crimes, but not in the number of weapons being discharged), increase in crime (personal crime eg mobile phone theft has increased enormously), sale of buildings etc. With such a large number of different nationalities living in Wandsworth how will the Police increase the numbers of other nationalities on the Force. Will they manage to integrate enough of them?
The Panel said there will be an increase in the number of police on the ground, and their presence should be more visible.
Closure of front desks did not mean the police would not still be working out of that police station. The loss of Tooting front desk was highlighted. The Borough is so large, it was felt Tooting had been neglected somewhat.
Safer Neighbourhood Teams to increase from 58 to 137. They said they wouldn't allow abstraction of SNT's who settle in to their patches and know locals and the area.
There was mention of a new Safer Neighbourhood Board, but the question about what that was, how it functioned and who was on it wasn’t answered.
Overall it was an interesting meeting, but I personally feel this could have been longer. More questions need to be answered. .
We’ll have to wait and see if they can deliver on their promises.
Do read the information on links below, and have a go at the survey.
Although I am the Convenor of the Community Panel of the Putney Society, this is an informal report, in my own name, with my own opinions and thoughts on how the meeting went. Any errors are my own.
March 1, 2013