Concerns on closing West Hampstead police station

999sosAs you may well be aware – we’re facing a multiple threat to our local emergency services in Kilburn and West Hampstead, thanks to Tory Mayor Boris Johnson’s disastrous budgeting decisions.

A massive reorganisation of community policing and a decision to close West Hampstead police station in Hillfield Road to the public risks a severe diminution in access to local police services for people living in NW6.

I’m especially concerned that the proposals to close the counter service at West Hampstead hasn’t been thought through – with the decision to close Albany Street and restrict Kentish Town to 40 hours, it leaves only Holborn police station open 24/7.

Having worked with our Labour Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Cllr Abdul Hai, on the issue, I’m really pleased he’s going to be leading a public meeting for residents with the Borough Commander on the issue at:

 18:30 to 20:30

 Thursday 7 March

West Hampstead Library, Dennington Park Road, NW6

Please also remember to respond to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) consultation on the new policing plan.

Also, I’ve tabled a motion at the next meeting of Camden Full Council (Monday 4 March) – because I want to air my concerns not just about the police cuts, but cuts to our fire service too:

This council believes that the safety and security of residents in Camden is being put at risk as a result of cuts to emergency services being pushed through by the Mayor and the Conservative led government to our key emergency services, particularly the Metropolitan Police Service and London Fire Brigade.

Furthermore, this council:

  • condemns the proposal to close Belsize Fire Station could have a huge impact for residents in the north of the borough.  This fire station covers a wide area of the borough, from Kilburn in the west to Gospel Oak in the east.  These are densely populated wards which can suffer from extremely congested roads.
  • notes that Camden currently has the second best fire service attendance times in London, and that the decision to close Belsize Fire Station, and also stations in Islington and Westminster, along with the decision to abandon plans for an extra fire engine replacement for Euston will mean attendance times in Camden on average will increase by 45 seconds- a huge impact, given that a fire doubles in intensity every thirty seconds.
  • notes that the Mayor’s decision that police stations at Hampstead, West Hampstead and Albany Street are to close their doors to the public completely means there will be no police station open to public access in the north and west of the borough at all, with Kentish Town being open for 40 hours per week.
  • calls for much greater clarity about the location and function for police ‘contact points’, given that comments from the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh during the consultation event in the Camden Centre on 22 January 2013, that contact points would not be used for crime reporting, directly conflicts with statements in the draft Policing Plan
  • notes that, by the time of the next election in 2015 the projected number of police officers in Camden will be fall by 133, or 11%, compared with 2010; and that the number of officers in Camden Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) will fall by 17, or 14%, over the same period
  • warns that the Mayor’s proposal that each SNT will have just two officers actually allocated to the ward – a PC and a PCSO – with remaining officers working across a much larger cluster may make it harder for SNTs to reflect the specific needs of residents in each ward, and instead heralds a return to the pre-SNT “sector based” policing model which did not work

The council believes that the cuts are going too far and too fast and that the many millions of pounds being cut from the budgets the Metropolitan Police Service and the London Fire Brigade will lead to longer response times and make their services less accessible to Camden’s residents.

This council challenges the Mayor’s position that the scale of cuts are necessary and acceptable. This council calls on the Mayor to stand up for Londoners against the cuts being imposed by the Conservative-led government and to reconsider his own draconian cuts to the emergency services on which we rely to keep Londoners safe.

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