Policing: you get what you pay for

PolicingBlackheath Westcombe ward is well-served by an excellent Safer Neighbourhoods Team, run by Sergeant Dave Crackles. They meet with the community every few months at consultative meetings chaired very well by a local resident, who is independent of both the police and the council. Based in new offices upstairs from Marks and Spencers on Old Dover Road, they work hard to tackle the most serious crime and disorder problems in the area – burglary and car crime (which are mostly evening and night-time problems), and more low-level disorder in and around the Royal Standard after the schools shut from 3pm onwards – with the best will in the world, a small minority of young people will behave irresponsibly and everyone agrees a police presence is beneficial here at this time. Street crime and robberies are thankfully very rare in Blackheath and Westcombe Park, but burglary and car crime levels are generally above the borough average, as the relatively affluent population does attract opportunistic criminals wanting to steal valuables from homes and vehicles.

Dealing with these two separate policing priorities, at very different times of day, means flexible working and , inevitably, some overtime. The trouble is that the Tory mayor Boris Johnson has made no commitment to protecting these police teams, and keeping their strength at one sergeant, two PCs and three police community support offices per ward.

And the Met’s spending cuts have already started.

Each local police team in this part of Greenwich used to have an annual overtime budget of £3,500. This has not been centralised into a pot of £12,000 across six wards – working out as an average of £2,000 per team. Teams that have been responsible and have underspent their overtime budget have found that money left over will be taken away – giving a perverse incentive for teams to spend money quickly or lose it from next year’s budget.Shifts have been changed so that officers now only work one weekend in three, not two weekends in five. IN short, all the hallmarks of over-centralised financial controls getting the upper hand of policing.

The local police have done a great job in tackling local crime problem, and burglary in particular has fallen drastically in the last few years. But those figures are now beginning to creep up again. Of course the police should tighten their belts, make efficiency savings and ensure that money is well spent. But surely frontline policing should be cut last, not first.

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One Response to Policing: you get what you pay for

  1. Pingback: Police stations closed, police numbers down, crime up: how the Tories are ruining neighbourhood policing | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

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