Havering Council buys Hornchurch Police Station site in London first
- Credit: Archant
Months of campaigning by the council has resulted in a “wonderful achievement” in the battle to keep Hornchurch police station open.
Havering Council has agreed to take over Hornchurch Police Station from the Met Police, and will lease it back to them, guaranteeing a police presence in the area.
Councillor Damian White, leader of the council told the Recorder: “I think it’s incredibly important that we have been able to keep this police station open.
“It sends a message that we as a council are going to do anything possible to deter crime.
“I think it’s a wonderful type of initiative that we have been able to achieve.”
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In July 2017, the London Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC) put forward proposals to close both Hornchurch and Rainham police stations along with seven Safer Neighbourhood bases where members of the public can contact the Police’s Safer Neighbourhood teams face-to-face.
Such a move would have left only one 24-hour publicly accessible police station in the borough – Romford.
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“Ever since the mayor of London decided to announce the closure of this police station we have been working behind the scenes,” said Cllr White.
“The council launched a judicial review in order to question the metrics that were used to close [the Hornchurch] centre, and then on the back of that we were able to convince MOPAC to allow the Met Police to lease this site back to us.”
This is the first instance in London of a council buying a police station and it is thought that some councils might follow Havering’s example.
Cllr White said: “I was talking to the leader of Hillingdon [Council] recently as they’re trying to do the same thing, however it hasn’t come to fruition yet.
“In Havering, we’ve not only been able to just talk about it, but actually do it.”
The take-over will be discussed at a council meeting in November. If the cabinet agrees, then the leader of the council hopes that they will be able to complete the take-over within the next six months.
Andrew Boff, London assembly member added: “Havering is really looking after the interests of the residents in being willing to step up when other agencies are dropping the ball.
“I think [other councils] may take Havering’s lead and I think MOPAC has a lot to answer for this half-hearted plan.
“I’m so pleased that Havering has recognised that and put their money where their mouth is.”
Cllr White meets monthly with the borough commander, Jason Gwillim to discuss crime related issues that the borough faces.
He said: “In Havering we are seeing an increase in the amount of knife crime. We are in discussions to bring forward a new strategy in order to prevent knife crime, and we’re putting in a bid for additional funding.
“I think that the big problem [in Havering] is the perception of crime, rather than the actual crime rates itself.
“There is a great fear about going into the town centre and certain places, and what we need to do as a local authority is to allay these fears and be proactive about changing the reputation of Havering as a destination of choice.”