SAVE OUR POLICE SERVICES
OUR POLICE BUILDINGS ARE TO BE SOLD
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Since 2010, the number of police stations in London has reduced from 149 to 73 in order to save £600 million as required by the government. The government now requires a further £400 million saving over the next four years. To achieve this, the Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) proposes that the number of stations is further reduced to 32 (only one per borough, except for Westminster). Most buildings will be sold or leases terminated.
For the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea the proposal is that the Notting Hill police station would be closed, leaving only the Kensington police station on Earl’s Court Road. The proposal is that this station be open to the public 24/7, but this too is under review.
The cuts are not limited to the loss of buildings. The whole methodology of policing is also proposed to change.
With the spotlight already on our borough after the Grenfell tragedy and the series of terrorist attacks across London in recent months, we must ensure that any changes to policing are thoroughly thought through, so that unintended and damaging consequences can be avoided.
Once our police stations go, we will never get them back again.
HOW THIS AFFECTS YOU
The way we report crime will change. The current system of “mini stations”, called Contact Points, created to compensate for the loss of stations during the last round of closures, is proposed to be replaced by something called Community Contact Sessions. These are to be held in public spaces, such as cafés or retail shops, by the foot patrolling ward police team (consisting of two full fledged police officers and one police community support officer) during office hours.
Another way to contact the police will be through an improved police website for all of London, which will enable people to report non urgent crime, in addition to the 101 telephone number. For urgent crime, the 999 phone number remains.
These proposed “improvements” lack detail. There is no evidence that suggests the new system – one that relies on online plus phone plus daytime roving ward police teams - can effectively replace, let alone improve, our current system.
For those living in the southern and northern wards, visiting the only remaining police station on Earl's Court Road in order to report a crime, hand in invaluable found items or to talk in privacy with a police officer, will be considerably more challenging, often requiring several bus changes and a travel time of more than an hour each way.
For the millions of visitors to Portobello Market each year, any need to contact the police, other than through the casual sighting of a police officer, would require a lengthy journey and in practice be nearly impossible. How would they even know where to find the station?
Have only one available police station for personal visits, may make crime reporting too difficult for those who are non-computer literate, those who lack English language skills, and those who only feel confident to go to a police station and discuss the situation in person. How are persons with learning difficulties expected to contact the police in the future?
If the ways crimes can be reported are seen as more difficult and limiting, the undesired effect can be that fewer crimes are reported, leading to false crime statistics which lead to further cuts in police numbers.
There are also concerns that the closure of the Notting Hill station may affect the policing of public events, such as Notting Hill Carnival.
The future of Notting Hill police station as a building is unclear. The council does have a planning policy to protect community assets. However, with governmental pressure to generate maximum income from abandoned police buildings, it is possible that the site will be sold off to private developers to be converted into luxury housing. This has already happened with Chelsea police station, which was part of the previous closure round. We prefer that if the Notting Hill building cannot be retained as a police station, it should serve the community other ways. More luxury housing is not what this borough needs.
We therefore demand that the council lobbies the government for funds to keep our Notting Hill police station open.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
URGENT: the public consultation will end on 6th October 2017.
For more information about the draft strategy and ways to comment and participate in the consultation, visit MOPAC's website