MP Responds to Borough Commander about Proposed Station Cuts

Andy Slaughter "shocked and dismayed" at plans to close front counters

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Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter has written to Borough Commander Lucy D' Orsi in response to her letter, revealing plans to close the front counter at Shepherd's Bush Green Police Station and reducing hours of opening at Fulham Police Station, in order to reduce the annual budget and "modernise" services.

Andy Slaughter, who is also Shadow Minister of Justice, has also questioned the Home Secretary in the House of Commons about these proposed cuts.

You can read the details of these proposals here.

The MP's letter is as follows:

Dear Lucy,

Thank you for letting me know about the proposed closures to police services in the borough. You will understand that this comes as a shock, particularly as you said you were not aware of any changes to police station openings when we met three weeks ago.

I am also dismayed that this is all happening so quickly. I have had four working days to comment on the proposal to shut completely Shepherds Bush police station to the public (you ask for a response by Friday 19 November but I assume that meant by today).

With other London MPs I met the Commissioner on November 6. Again there was no mention of closures in Hammersmith & Fulham, and I have to conclude that these are being rushed through to deal with the high level of cuts imposed by the Government and the Mayor.

I appreciate that this is not your decision and I will obviously work with the police locally to ensure the community remains as safe as possible, though this will not be helped if, as again is proposed at short notice, we have to share a Borough Commander with another borough.

The current cuts, coming on top of the loss of neighbourhood sergeants, will not be welcomed by the local community. They bear the hallmark of the Deputy Mayor for policing. Hammersmith & Fulham residents will be familiar with his reputation for draconian and badly thought out cuts from his time as Council Leader here.

Specifically, with regards to Shepherds Bush Police Station, I would say as follows:

· Shepherds Bush has the highest levels of crime in the borough. Residents often express concern that there is not a 24-hour service there at present. Total closure of the public reception will increase fears that the police are not immediately available in the area. I note from your statistics that there is a higher level of crime reporting at Shepherds Bush than at Hammersmith.

· You say there are no plans to close Shepherds Bush Police Station as a whole ‘at this stage’. Does that means future closure plans will be considered?

· I am sympathetic to your concern that staffing the front counter with warranted officers could prevent them being on the streets. But why is it necessary to have officers rather than civilian staff on duty? There will always be officers on hand to deal with emergencies, but the ‘triage’ stage could surely be dealt with by trained reception staff?

· I already have concerns about the level of public response at Hammersmith PS and via ‘phone or email. My personal experience and that of constituents is that attending Hammersmith entails long waits and often inconclusive or unsatisfactory responses from staff. Similarly, residents complain that messages left by email of voicemail are not replied to quickly or at all. I emphasise that I am talking about non-emergency service here, but this makes me worried about any loss of public access points.

· I support the greater presence of police in supermarkets and other public places where they can offer reassurance and advice. This is a logical extension of neighbourhood policing, but the occasional visit to other venues cannot be seen as a replacement for police stations themselves.

· You mention greater use of online services and information. Again, this would be welcome and I would like to see greater publication of crime statistics and the activities of the local SNTs and policing operations by this means. But poorer, older and more vulnerable people do not always have internet access and I do not think this can be an alternative to face to face contact in every case.

I hope these comments are helpful. I note you say that the police station front counters proposal is not yet in public circulation, but in fact it has been widely reported, including in the Standard as a result of a briefing from the Deputy Commissioner, so I intend to post this response on my website,

Andy

 

November 21, 2012