Havering Council leader Cllr Michael White slams Met plans to share police resources between boroughs

The leader of Havering Council has slammed Met plans to pool police resources between neighbouring boroughs, saying they would “penalise” Havering for its low crime rate.

Speaking to the Recorder, Cllr Michael White said he was “absolutely opposed” to the possibility of Havering losing its borough commander and sharing resources with Barking and Dagenham.

“I know they have to save money so they’ve come up with the idea of joining the command structures, but I think it’s wrong,” he said.

Under the plans, Basic Command Units (BCUs) will be formed covering one or more boroughs, allowing services including custody, intelligence provision and resource management to be shared.

“As a manager, you spend your time where your problems are,” said Cllr White. “In Barking and Dagenham, they have a gang problem, a knife problem, and lots of issues we don’t have in Havering – so my expectation is that the leadership would spend more time in Barking and Dagenham than in Havering.

“My fear is that in the future we won’t have a borough commander – we’d lose that accountability and partnership working which we’ve had with [current borough commander] Mike Smith. I would hate to lose him – he’s been responsible for driving crime down across Havering.

“We’re down to two crimes a week in Romford, and my fear is all that good work could be lost.”

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A Met statement said no decisions had been made on which boroughs would share resources.

“In order to decide which boroughs could be grouped together to form a BCU and which should remain on their own, the overall levels of risk, policing complexity and operational efficiency have been assessed,” it stated.

“No decisions have been made about which boroughs could be part of which BCU. The proposals would be put to the Met’s management board, then passed to the Mayor’s Office for Policing & Crime (MOPAC) for its consideration before any final decisions.”

Havering neighbours the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Bexley – but is separated from the latter by the Thames.

Cllr White said pooling Havering’s resources with a neighbouring borough would be a “recipe for reversal” of the work that had been done in lowering crime.

“We have the second lowest crime figures in the whole of London,” he said. “I think they’re penalising us for being a success when they should be helping us.

“It’s like: ‘If you’ve got a high crime we are going to throw money at you, but if you’ve managed to deal with it we’re doing to take things away from you.’”