Labour’s new crime chief, Paul Convery, said cuts to policing have left Safer Neighbourhood teams understaffed across the borough
Published: 18 May, 2012
by WILLIAM McLENNAN
NEIGHBOURHOOD police forces are under strength and must be restored to curb anti-social behaviour, Labour’s new crime chief said this week.
Councillor Paul Convery said cuts to policing, made in Boris Johnson’s first term as London Mayor, have left Safer Neighbourhood teams – considered invaluable in combating low-level crime and anti-social behaviour – understaffed across the borough.
He told the Tribune this week: “There is a palpable sense that things have got tougher recently and there has been an upswing in anti-social behaviour, which is almost certainly related to the recession.
“There was a specific cut last year that took out a quarter of all the sergeants on Safer Neighbourhood Team.
"So we’ve got wards like Caledonian, which is twinned with Barnsbury ward, so there is a single sergeant in charge of two teams.”
Cllr Convery said Safer Neighbourhood Teams are important because they get to know their area and residents.
He said: “Their officers really get to know their patch and understand the nature of the problems they’re dealing with.
“They really get to understand who are the problem kids, particularly on some of the estates that have these endemic problems.
“They get under the skin of their neighbourhoods and that’s the best way to provide reassurance and to deter crime.
"It’s a very effective way of policing.”
Cllr Convery wrote to Stephen Greenhalgh, who was announced as Mayor Johnson’s candidate for Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime last week, to urge him to follow through on his promise to boost neighbourhood policing.
He said: “I want him to send a really clear message through the Metropolitan Police Service that more policing resource has to go to the front line, to coppers on the street and if necessary less to some of specialist police services.
“Don’t get me wrong: we need a CID, a drug squad and all that stuff, but not at the expense of basic day-to-day policing, and that’s what affects ordinary Londoners in a borough like ours.”
Cllr Convery is also worried that police forces will suffer vicious cuts once the Olympics are over.
He said: “The truth is, the Metropolitan Police Service has been protected by the swathe of public spending cuts that this Government has brought in because of the Olympics.
"When the Olympics are over that’s when things may get an awful lot tougher.”
Cllr Convery said the extra expenditure to keep London safe during the Games may lead to a shortage after the summer.
He said: “If they burn the overtime budget in the run-up to and during the Olympics and there’s no overtime left after that, we will really feel the sharp degradation of police services.”