Thursday, 3 February 2011

Safer Neighbourhood Police teams at risk

The Metropolitan Police Service last week admitted that in the next two years there will be severe cuts across London in the number of police sergeants working in Safer Neighbourhood Teams, which have done much to improve policing in and around Shepherd's Bush.

Following questions from Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, budget figures supplied by Tim Godwin, the Acting Commissioner of the Met, revealed that over the course of the next year 100 Sergeants posts are set to be lost from Safer Neighbourhood Teams across the capital. 

Assistant Commissioner Godwin also admitted to Caroline Pidgeon that by April 2013 a total of 300 sergeants will have been lost from London's Safer Neighbourhood Teams, cutting in half the number of sergeants across London currently allocated to the neighbourhood policing teams.

Commenting on the reductions in the number of sergeants Caroline Pidgeon said:

"If these cuts in the number of sergeants go ahead the whole idea of Safer Neighbourhood Teams could be put at risk. The Met claim to be consulting as to how Safer Neighbourhood Teams operate in the future, but in reality they are rushing ahead with their own proposals that could put many of the teams at risk.  

"We know that Safer Neighbourhood Teams work and that they provide reassurance to local communities.   We shouldn't jeopardise their success."

But Hammersmith & Fulham Cabinet Member Greg Smith, speaking to me, responded to these claims by accusing the Liberal Democrats of "irresponsible political manoeuvring", and claimed:

"This absolutely does not spell the end for SNTs in Hammersmith & Fulham - any talk of that is deeply irresponsible political manoeuvring.  In fact, this is likely to only mean one less Sergeant for the whole borough.  

With the financial situation the nation faces, we all have to look at how we can do things more efficiently and sometimes this does mean reductions in posts and I will not criticise the Mayor or the Commissioner for doing the best they can with the resources they have.  

That said, working closely with our borough Police, H&F Council is committed to ensuring we have the best possible response to crime and anti-social behaviour in the borough and are in talks with the Met and the MPA to ensure H&F is both well resourced, with Police officers and Council uniformed officers best deployed to prevent and detect crime."

I did ask Labour to respond but they haven't done so.

In any case it's what the ruling Conservatives choose to do locally to mitigate these cuts that matters for Shepherd's Bush and its crime problem, so dramatically revealed by the police crime statistics website yesterday. And as I've said before Cllr Smith has, in my humble opinion, a strong record on anti crime measures locally. But he can only play the hand he's dealt so there are real worries that in an area with what seems to be a growing and serious crime problem we are now facing the prospect of scaling back the limited police presence we have.

If you want to know more, the H&F Crime Summit is taking place at Chelsea Football Club on Saturday March 5th between 10am and 2pm. You need to register a place which you can do here. It's got to be one of the most important issues facing the Bush today.

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