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Police chief promises proposed police station closures won’t affect Havering’s response times

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 September 2017

Police are investigating a stabbing in Dagenham

Police are investigating a stabbing in Dagenham

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Havering residents have been assured no police officers will be stationed more than a mile from their dedicated wards if plans to close the borough’s bases goes ahead.

Speaking at a public meeting at The Salvation Army in Romford High Street, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons outlined plans to close eight of Havering’s Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) bases and instead create four SNT hubs that would, along with Romford police station, cover the whole borough.

Hornchurch and Rainham police stations would also be sold off under the plans.

Martin Tunstall, from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, began the meeting by making clear the scale of the issue, which sees the Met trying to slash £1bn from its budget since 2010.

He said: “The only choice that we now have, having already taken a huge amount of cost out of the police, really cut policing to the bone, is a choice between police buildings, and police officers.

To be really clear, we don’t want to be in this position, coming to you and telling you we have to close police buildings, but unfortunately we are desperate to protect the frontline as much as we can do, and so in that clear choice between officers and buildings, we’re going to take the officers that you all value every time.”

Det Supt Jane Scotchbrook, who is in charge of neighbourhood policing across the newly created East Area Command that combined Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham’s police forces, then revealed Havering was being asked to save £259,000 per year – the equivalent of 4.7 fully funded police officers.

After plans to improve the public’s ability to report crime online were discussed, Cliff Reynolds, chairman of the Havering over 50’s forum, insisted that, as the borough has the highest proportion of elderly people in London, the Met’s plans must be changed accordingly.

Mr Simmons assured the meeting he was aware of Havering’s particular needs, but Mr Reynolds insisted a post such as a dedicated vulnerable groups officer should be created to deal with the issue.

He said: “I had a meeting at Havering Town Hall yesterday to with 84 elderly people who represent our entire community, they are disgusted, they are afraid and you are turning your backs on them.

“If you go ahead with this your confidence will go right down, and you won’t get crimes reported because there will be nowhere to report them.

“Forty-three square miles with one police station will not do, so stop it.”

Other issues raised by residents at the meeting included new locations for ward panel meetings that would need to be found once the current properties were sold and the fact that these closures did not appear to have been tested or piloted elsewhere.

When asked whether the closures would have an effect on police response times, Mr Simmons insisted the closures would only affect public access to the police, but that operational bases across the borough would all remain open, and so response times would not change.

Leaflets explaining the details of the public consultation on the proposed closures are due to be disseminated across Havering in the next few days, and the consultation will close on October 6th.

An online copy of the consultation can be found and completed at www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/mayors-office-policing-and-crime-mopac/mopac-consultations/share-your-views-accessing-met

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