More than 1,000 people sign petition City Hall petition to keep Havering's police officers on their beat
PUBLISHED: 13:00 28 February 2019
Photo: Lee Blackledge
More than 1,000 people have signed a petition to try and keep police officers on the beat in their area, rather than being posted out to busier town centres across the tri-borough.
Residents and shopkeepers expressed concerns over proposed changes to Dedicated Ward Officers’ (DWOs) shift patterns, which will, if approved, see officers moved to cover Romford, Ilford or Barking town centres on a more regular basis.
If implemented the changes will begin in March, and DWOs could be taken from their wards on a more regular basis to cover the night time economies of larger town centres.
A Met Police spokesman said: “Changes to the shift pattern in Havering are in line with similar changes across the Met which recognise the need to have dedicated ward officers worker later in the evenings on their own wards.
On occasions, dedicated ward officers may not be able to work on their wards – usually due to mandatory training or a requirement to attend court.”
Councillor Gerry O’Sullivan, of St Andrew’s Ward, told the Recorder: “This change has been decided without the blessing or participation of local councillors, residents or the SNT Ward Panel (a group of volunteers who give up their time freely to meet regularly with the DWOs to discuss issues and to set ward promises).
“In 2017 the Mayors Police and Crime plan promised to put DWO’s back at the heart of policing in London. This is something that we totally agree with, but this is simply not happening.
“For example, St Andrews Ward which covers Hornchurch Town Centre. In November 2018 our DWOs were abstracted for periods in excess of 20% of their working hours.
“We have asked the Mayor how does this fit in with your concept of ‘putting officers back at the heart of policing in London?’
“Whilst we accept that officers are moved to cover annual leave, sick leave and larger public events, we cannot accept that they are being taken away and their hours changed at short notice to cover short falls in the policing of the night time economy in town centres such as Romford, Ilford or Barking.”
On Friday, February 15, Cllr O’Sullivan, Councillor Paul Middleton, campaigner Bryan Vincent, and Lee Blackledge, director of Tiptoes in Hornchurch delivered a petition with more than 1,000 signatures to the Mayor’s Office in City Hall.