Questions raised by Labour leaders as Havering Council gives green light to plans to employ police officers
PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:30 13 May 2019
The borough's Labour leaders have expressed their questions and concerns after Havering Council announced it will be employing police officers.
The Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (Mopac) Partnership Plus Scheme, which will see Havering Council invest around £300,000 a year in policing for the next three years to fund five new posts, was given the green light at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, May 9.
The new officers will be ring-fenced from Metropolitan Police duties such as policing football matches and events in order to make sure they can focus on policing issues that affect communities in the borough but they may still be used by the Met police when needed for public order issues or in emergencies.
In reaction to the news, Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said: "This is a positive step by Havering Council to try and tackle rising crime in the area. "Whilst more visibility isn't the only answer to the current crisis, it is a step in the right direction in the fight to keep our streets safe.
"However, we also mustn't lose sight of the fact that we're in this situation because of harrowing cuts from a Tory government, cuts which have left us with 1,000 fewer officers across the BCU since 2010.
"In the coming months I will also be taking a 5,000 strong petition to the Home Secretary to demand more resources for our local police."
Chairman of Havering's Neighbourhood Watch Association Michael Winter told the Recorder he welcomed more police officers but felt it was unfair the council was having to take up the financial strain.
He said: "It's a great deal but let's be honest, politically it stinks.
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"We shouldn't have to do this.
"We pay our council tax and we should be able to see the benefit of that, but if the council footing the bill gives residents and the local areas the level of police cover they need then I am all for it."
But chairwoman of the Romford Labour Party Angelina Leatherbarrow questions why the local authority has taken so long to do so.
"Of course, I celebrate any increase in police numbers which is desperately needed in our communities now more than ever", she said.
"This decision taken just this week demonstrates how slow our current cabinet members are to respond to the voices in Havering who have been crying out for more police resources.
"Our Labour run neighbours have been doing officers for years.
"Newham has an extra 40 officers, 20 of which the Council pays for, they've been doing this for 11 years. What's taken Havering so long?"
And the leader of the Residents' Group, Havering Council's largest opposition group, revealed he has called in the cabinet's decision, so it will now go before an overview and scrutiny committee, perhaps as early as next week.
He said: "What we really need is detail.
"It's all well and good saying 'we're going to spend £300,000 on extra police officers' but what we really need to see is how that is going to work in practice and how we are going to make sure we get value for money on that £300,000."