by Nigel Bakhai on 25 March, 2013
The Mayor of London has announced major changes to the Met Police service which will have a huge impact on local policing in Elthorne and across Ealing.
First of all, there will be drastic reductions in the provision of front counters in the borough where residents can go to report crime. Acton Police station will now be the only 24 hour front counter in the borough, and the front counters at both Ealing and Southall will be open in daytime hours only. Furthermore, Ealing Police station is no longer deemed fit for purpose to meet future policing needs and, as a result, the front counter at Ealing will be relocated to the council building Perceval House on the other side of the road. The front counter at Greenford Police station will be downgraded to a contact point, and three new contact points set up at Northolt Leisure Centre, Ashbourne Parade (Hanger Lane) and South Ealing Road which will be open for just one hour on three days of the week.
Ealing is the third largest borough in London and with further population growth expected along the Uxbridge Road corridor including the Green Man Lane estate expansion and new Dickens Yard development, it is hard to believe that the Mayor of London thinks Ealing doesn’t need a 24 hour front counter. Even if Ealing Police station is no longer viable, the council were prepared to let the police operate a 24 hour front counter at Perceval House but the Mayor has chosen not to explore this option. Consequently, I am concerned these changes will mean that residents living in Southall or Ealing town centres will have nowhere locally to go to report crime in the evenings and I see little benefit in having a new contact point in South Ealing that is only open for three hours each week when there is a main front counter just over a mile away where officers’ time could be spent more productively.
The size of Ealing police is expected to rise from 637 to 717 police officers in the borough as a result of these changes. However, there will be a re-organisation of the Safer Neighbourhood Teams which operate in each ward in the borough. When these teams were first set up, each ward was supposed to be allocated one sergeant, two police constables (PCs) and three police community support officers (PCSOs). Over recent years, the numbers of officers allocated to these teams have been eroded with some wards like Ealing Common and Northfields sharing a sergeant. The numbers of PCSOs have also reduced over the past year or so as more of these officer have successfully graduated to become police officers and not been replaced.
The new local policing model is for each ward to have a sergeant (although these may still be shared with another ward), with a minimum of one dedicated ward PC and one dedicated PCSO. Ealing Police work in 4 clusters – namely Ealing, Acton, Southall and Greenford/Northolt- and the changes are designed to give the Police more flexibility in deploying officers across these clusters. In the Ealing cluster, only Ealing Broadway ward will be getting two dedicated ward PCs, and based on draft proposals presented by Superintendent Simon Message at the March meeting of the Ealing Community and Police Consultative Group there will be upto 25 PCs and 7 PCSOs working across the 7 wards that make up the Ealing cluster.
In Elthorne these changes mean that we will potentially lose one dedicated PC and one PCSO compared with the current situation. With less resources, my concern is that the Safer Neighbourhood teams will lose touch with their local patch and there will be less engagement with the local community. By working in clusters, my worry is that the police will spend all of their time in the higher crime areas like Ealing Broadway and we will never see them on the beat in quieter residential streets around the borough. In 2011, Elthorne had the 8th highest crime rate out of the 23 wards in the borough, and residents in many streets around the area already say that they never see a police officer on their street. My fear is that these plans could mean that even when they are in the ward we will mainly see them on the Green Man Lane estate, or on the streets of West Ealing and Hanwell town centres, but never see them in Olde Hanwell or around Boston Manor. I am therefore worried about the potential impact of these plans on local policing and have already expressed my concern to Superintendent Message that Elthorne’s police numbers should be protected not reduced.Leave a comment