Information about my work as a Labour Councillor for East Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Policing in Barnet

Andrew Dismore carries the message from the Barnet Metropolitan Police Service on the future of policing in the borough. it isn't a pretty sight. Mayor Johnson sits in City Hall, promises more police but really cuts them. He is a real let down for Londoners, and it is astonishing that the media are giving him a free pass for having failed, within months, on another election pledge. I am in particular concerned by the reduction in front counter services. At a time when residents are very worried by burglaries, and there has been a spike in the number of them recently, despite a major operation. I see nothing about how to tackle that.
Re: Changing the way front counter service is delivered in Barnet Borough
In September 2011, the Commissioner set out the vision for the MPS – the ‘One Met Model’ – under the banner of Total Policing. It has three targets: cut crime, cut costs and change the culture. We will focus on:
Better ways of working
Better use of technology
Better use of communication and visibility.
MetChange is the programme that will deliver higher quality policing services in a more effective and cost-efficient way. The MPS must change the way it delivers its services to modernise, become more responsive and put the public at the heart of what it does. The ‘One Met Model’ is being developed with neighbourhood policing at the foundation and response by dynamic and flexible pan-London investigative and specialist units. The support functions will be rationalised and more resources will be focused at the front line.
The MPS will cut crime and improve services and performance by:
-More officers from non-operational roles to the front line
-Streamlining operational support services
-Making the MPS and its services more accessible to the public.
-Our objective is to deliver a 20% reduction in crime, a 20% reduction in costs and a 20% improvement in public confidence.
-One part of the MetChange programme is a review of how the MPS delivers its front
counter service.
There are a variety of reasons that a member of the public visits a front counter. 18% of all contacts relate to court imposed bail conditions (normally a requirement to present yourself at a police station) or the requirement to present driving documents as a result of a traffic violation or police check. 18% of contacts are as a result of visitors meeting officers or custody suite enquiries in the larger police stations. The remaining 64% of contacts, therefore, relate to visits that could potentially be made to any police officer in any location; the principal activities are: finding out general information or collectingforms 17%, lost or found property 14%, reporting a crime 12%, discussing general police matters 11% and collision report/civil dispute/missing persons/complaints 8%.
Usage of front counters is declining, with 12.3% of all crime in 2011 being reported
in front counters, compared with 13.7% in 2008. With the developments in face-to-
face service provision and improvements in technology, demand at front counters will
continue to fall. At present Barnet Borough has 4 police stations that provide a front counter service. Colindale is open 24 hours a day. Barnet, Golders Green and Whetstone are open 15
hours a day. In order to maintain this service I have to remove uniform police officers
from active patrol duties. Recent survey data shows that no station takes more than 3
crime reports in any 8 hour period and only Colindale and Barnet exceed a proposed
minimum standard of footfall.
In order for the MPS to put 2,000 more officers back into neighbourhood policing it has identified that it needs to reduce up to 65 front counters. To maintain and improve access by the public it will replace them with over 200 Contact Points in popular locations such as community centres, supermarkets and shared local authority buildings. The services at these contact points will be delivered by local Safer Neighbourhood Officers at a time when they can be most efficient.
To support the MPS position the proposal in Barnet is:
-To close the front office at Whetstone Police Station and Golders Green Police Station.
-To reduce the service at Barnet form 15 hours a day 7 days a week to 8 hours 5 days a week.
-To keep Colindale open 24hrs a day 7 days a week.
-To increase the number of advertised Neighbourhood Police contact points across the borough in line with a shared services policy, i.e. police surgeries in hospitals,
local authority buildings, supermarkets etc.
-There is no requirement for a statutory consultation process with the community at large but it is important that I canvass the issues and concerns of our key stakeholders.
One anticipated concern is the closure of the Golders Green front counter service and its impact on the Jewish communities. To alleviate these concerns an alternative front counter service will be created at the Golders Green safer neighbourhood patrol base on a Friday and Saturday.
As is often the case for such matters the time scale for stakeholder engagement is short. It would be preferable to have a face to face meeting to discuss the proposal in more depth and I am available to do just that. However, given your undoubtedly busy schedule I thought it would be best to provide what I can via letter.
If you require any clarification on the above or the background statistics to support the
MPS case please don’t hesitate to contact me.