|Shepherd's Bush Station: set to be sold?|
Make sense? No, me either but you've always got to worry when new labels are brought out in an environment in which even the police themselves are warning about the impact of the proposed cuts on their ability to fight crime, with Met Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison being the latest to do so only today.
Ringing in the changes is our own Police Commander Lucy D’Orsi who has launched her own blog with a post listing the changes. In it she emphasises that the numbers of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) will remain the same and doesn’t seem to announce any specific reductions in either numbers or resources.
But then, her article doesn’t deny that any are taking place either so I spoke to her this morning for some more info. She has confirmed that the new Neighbourhood Policing Teams will operate on the same ward based boundaries as the SNTs currently do, but that there may be more fluid arrangements between them. Meaning that more officers will be deployed to areas with higher levels of crime than others rather than staying in their own teams.
The specific numbers are not yet known but she has offered to explain more on this site later on this year in an interview.
I have heard significant concerns from both people within communities in W12 and from some within the Police themselves about the likely impact of these cuts, and it seems those concerns are shared at a senior level of the Met too. There are very valid questions to be asked about them, and the impact they will have on local policing.
What, for example, is the fabled “front line” that politicians keep banging on about? They can’t answer because it doesn’t exist. A dog handler is presumably one of the “specialist” teams that the Assistant Commissioner is today warning of losing – but try staging a raid on a drugs house in W12 that has dogs in without one.
In Shepherd’s Bush we have a team that is good – so good it wins awards and my main concern is that we risk losing that, in one of the parts of H&F that needs it most. But these questions are relevant to the borough as a whole and it would be interesting to know where the Council stands on them too. They can rightly point to having supported the police over and above what they had to in the past, but will that extra support continue when central funding is reduced and new Leader Nick Botterill will be under pressure to continue cutting council tax?
Having said all of that it’s refreshing that Ms D’Orsi is so willing to engage, both in her own blog and in the way in which she is very open and approachable generally. It’s clearly going to be a difficult time for the police in the coming months, and there are real implications for their ability to target crime in the ways I have seen work so effectively on several occasions, but she is a formidable operator within the system. She and the Met will need to be when faced with the likes of Deputy Mayor Greenhalgh.
Expect more on this in the months to come.
1900 UPDATE - Well, how a bit of publicity brings clarity to the situation! From the position this morning, where I was told categorically that numbers of PCs and Sergeants were as yet unknown, we now have a response to this article which guarantees that numbers will definately not go down. So something must have been clarified during the day. Here's what the Commander says in a blog this afternoon:
"Can I reassure you that safer neighbourhood teams will remain on the borough aligned to wards with no changes to the constable and sergeant numbers that we currently have on the ward teams".This is great news and Ms D'Orsi also pledges that the Safer Neighbourhood Team structure will remain, but leaves some wriggle room about the name. Personally I don't care what they're called so long as they are there and the strides they have made in recent years are not lost. And I know that is a widely shared view both inside and outside the force.
Now then, could we have some clarity over the future of Shepherd's Bush Police Station, next please?