Open Letter from Richard Tracey AM

Fiona Twycross' "Challenges cuts & 'sham' consultations” article is misleading

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The Police Plan does not propose cuts to police numbers or local Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs), rather the reverse. There will be 79 more officers in local policing in Wandsworth by 2015 than in 2011 and 49 more officers in Merton.

Ms Twycross has chosen the only historic figures she could find which suggest numbers will decrease –when they were at their highest in London policing history. But this peak did not mean we saw more police on the street. This was before the cross-party lauded “civilianisation” – a process whereby expensive officers, carrying out only back office tasks such as sitting in custody suites, were replaced with cheaper civilian staff.

The consultations are not a “sham”. Residents have the chance to write to the Mayor; fill in a questionnaire by post or online; or speak to the Deputy Mayor of Policing himself, since he is visiting every borough in London. Ms Twycross may be interested to know that no such extensive consultations took place under the previous Labour administration.

Her map shows police stations closing, but of course fails to show the new front counter and police access points which are about to be set up over the next year. Re-thinking how the public access police face-to-face is long overdue. Some stations in London saw only an average of one visitor a day - not a good use of taxpayers’ money. Also, victims could wait in line for ages behind people filling out lost property forms. Taking the form filling function out of front counters into such as post offices is a positive step; as is the aim to enhance front counter provision in London.

Richard Tracey AM

January 21, 2013