East London to be hit by police station closures

By Rob Virtue on January 10, 2013 12:47 PM |


Drastic cuts to the Metropolitan Police budget could see victims forced to report crime in busy supermarkets, say police representatives.

East London faces a raft of front desk closures under enforced cuts of £500 million a year to the force's spending.

Tower Hamlets, Newham and Greenwich will each have just one 24 hour desk for the public to report crime to as police buildings look to be sold.

John Tully, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents officers, said: "With these closures there will have to be areas in places like Sainsbury's and the Post Office where volunteers will be manning desks.

"If I'm a victim of crime I would want to be somewhere a lot more private and comfortable than that."

In Tower Hamlets, the Isle of Dogs, Poplar and Bow will lose their front counters, while Bethnal Green will remain open 24 hours and Limehouse and Brick Lane will work restricted times.

Greenwich Borough will lose a front counter in the town centre, as well as Woolwich and Thamesmead, leaving just Plumstead as the only permanent access point and Eltham as a part-time counter.

Newham, meanwhile, will lose the desks at Stratford and North Woolwich, with Forest Gate the closest 24-hour front counter.

It comes as new targets are introduced for the Met, which include reducing spend by 20 per cent while also trying to boosting public confidence and cutting priority crimes significantly.

By 2015 the Mayor Boris Johnson wants senior managers down from 37 to 26 and a reduction in supervisors - including roles from sergeants to chief inspectors - from 7,000 to 6,000.

It wants the Met to replace these with 1,300 more police constable roles, reaching a total nearly 26,000.

Police civilian staff will also be cut and buildings will be sold off.

While Mr Tully said it was preferable to lose buildings over police officers, he added the loss of experienced staff will also hit the force hard.

"There will be a lot of new recruits coming in and the question is, with the sergeants, inspectors and chief inspectors losing their jobs, who do they learn off?"

Speaking about the cuts, Mayor Boris Johnson said he hoped more officers on the streets would increase public confidence.

He said: "In the current economic climate there is no denying that tough decisions will have to be made but policing in the capital is changing and we must change with it by creating a police force that is ready to tackle the issues that matter most to Londoners."

- Meetings will be held by the police to discuss the plans with the public. The first is for Tower Hamlets residents and will take place at The Skeel Lecture Theatre in Queen Mary, University of London, at 7.30pm on January 24.

The next event is for those living in Greenwich and takes place on January 29 at 7.30pm in Lecture Theatre 315 of the University of Greenwich.

Newham residents will be able to have their voices heard at Stratford Old Town Hall at 5.30pm on February 11.