The plans have been proposed in response to a reduction in funding for policing in London, but Lambeth council feels that police stations play an important role in reassuring residents and serving our communities.
The content of the letter to Sophie Linden, below, outlines Lambeth’s argument why the the proposals should be reassessed.
We are writing on behalf of the London Borough of Lambeth in response to the proposals to close multiple police stations across Lambeth and change how the police engages with the communities in London. It is worth noting that the proposals in their present form will close every front counter in Lambeth except for Brixton, resulting in the loss of service at:
- Loughborough Junction
- Cobalt Square
- Clement Avenue
- Coldharbour Lane
- Norwood Road
- Cavendish Road
We recognise the impossible situation for the police caused by the Government’s cuts to the Metropolitan Police’s budget. By demanding a further £400m on top of the £600m already taken out since 2010, the Government is putting public safety at risk and undermining the visible, community-based policing that is vital to tackling crime and providing reassurance to residents.
While we agree with the principle of the MOPAC proposals – officers are more important than buildings – we do feel the current strategy is not suitable for Lambeth. It risks alienating our communities, removing the neighbourhood presence that works so well, and jeopardising the excellent local work done by the police to engage communities across our borough.
- A one size fits all approach, where every London borough has just one public counter, is not workable or reasonable. Serious youth violence has increased by nearly 20% and knife crime by over 50% in Lambeth. Giving identical resources to one of London’s highest crime areas and outer London boroughs with far lower crime rates doesn’t make sense. Resources and access should be based on community need.
- These proposals would see the newly opened Streatham Police station be closed to the public. This would mean that residents in the south of Lambeth, many whom are elderly or who have complex needs, would have to travel a minimum of 45 minutes to Brixton to report a crime face to face. Brixton station is already London’s busiest front counter, with waits of up to 2 hours to report a crime. At a time when the focus should be on making police more visible and more accessible, the closure of Streatham would be a serious backwards step.
- The closure of Kennington station would mean the north of the borough, in both Lambeth and Southwark, would lack any front counter police presence, despite the large tourist crowds on the Southbank and the need for visitors to London to report crimes in person to the police. We feel there must be some publicly accessible front counter in the north of Lambeth to serve the Southbank the local area.
- The proposals to replace Community Contact Points with Community Contact Sessions are welcome, as Community Contact Points have failed to serve the communities they were set up to serve. However, shutting police stations before making sure the new contact points actually work creates the risk that large parts of London will have no police access at all, and no fall-back position. Before closing police stations MOPAC should ensure that their alternatives work and are embedded in the community. We think that better local engagement would help here, particularly with local ward members.
- Finally, whilst we welcome MOPACs commitment to better engagement, there is still a long way to go. There is no such thing as a “hard to reach” community – only communities we find hard to hear. Lambeth’s local police have worked extensively to improve community relations and engagement, through transparency and local accountability from the Borough Commander, and we urge MOPAC to learn from that work and engage with local authorities and communities earlier and more openly.
We would welcome an opportunity to discuss these plans with you, and strongly hope that you reconsider some of the key issues especially the closure of Streatham Police Station.
Councillor Lib Peck
Leader of Lambeth Council
Councillor Mohammed Seedat
Cabinet Member Healthier & stronger Communities