|Putney Police Station Will Close|
Wandsworth police station escapes closure
Wandsworth's police station has escaped closure in a cull of the capital's stations announced this week, although it could become part-time, but Wandsworth CS Chinchen confirmed that Putney will close.
"We are proposing that the hours of service at Lavender Hill Police Station should be extended to 24 hours a day and that the front counter at Wandsworth Police Station should staffed for 40 hours per week. The front counters at Battersea, Tooting and Putney high street would close but officers will continue to be deployed at each of those sites and patrol from them each day.
These contact points will be in busy high street locations in supermarkets, or co-located with other public services in council buildings or libraries or potentially the Post Office. The Mayor is currently in talks with the Post Office to see how the Met Police might use some of their high street branches to set up these access points, with a pilot earmarked to begin this summer.
In an open letter Richard Tracey AM for Wandsworth said:
We will see 2000 more police officers in our wards. Indeed Merton will have 49 more officers in SNTs by 2015 and Wandsworth will have 79.
The last Government left us with a huge deficit so difficult decisions have had to be made. However, most police buildings due to close never provided public access. And the majority of Londoners now contact police by phone or internet; so stations now only see on average 5 crime reports a day. Re-thinking how the public access police face-to-face is long overdue. Police stations were often uninviting, half empty, old buildings with victims waiting in line behind people filling out lost property forms. Taking the form filling function out of front counters into post offices is a constructive step; as is the aim to actually increase front counter provision in every borough."
The Metropolitan Police are reported to have a £500 million budget gap and the closure of stations, particularly older Victorian ones, will go some way to balancing the books. They have recently announced plans to move their headquarters from New Scotland Yard to smaller premises. The Met's current stock of nearly 500 buildings costs £203m a year to run. Around 200 of the least used buildings are to be closed.
65 of London's 136 front counters are to close. Senior officers have argued that most people no longer visit a police station to report crime as more use is being made of the phone or the internet. There has been a 20 per cent fall in counter visits over the last four years. Across the whole of London, less than 50 crimes a night are now reported at front counters in police stations. It is argued that new contact points will make officers more accessible and provide a greater amount of face-to-face contact with the public. These contact points will be in places like libraries, coffee shops and supermarkets.
The Met has already guaranteed that every victim of crime in London will get a personal visit from the police, should they want one, and local people will be asked to help identify new locations for crime prevention desks and police bureaus where they can meet the police face-to-face.