Mayor Boris Johnson has today set out his priorities for policing in London, pledging to get more constables than ever before on to the capital's streets, driving down crime and boosting Londoners' confidence in the police.
His draft Police and Crime Plan, developed by the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) and subject to an extensive public consultation, confirms the Mayor’s commitment to maintain police numbers at or around 32,000. The draft plan includes a new local policing model that redeploys officers from the back office to the frontline with an additional 2,600 officers in Safer Neighbourhood Teams. The new policing model will make the police more visible and accountable to local people.
In the current economic climate, the decision to focus on street policing and prioritise keeping police numbers high means it will be necessary to sell many of the under-used and outmoded buildings in the Met estate. With almost 500 buildings, costing £203m a year to run, the estate is vast and expensive.
The draft Met Estates Strategy, which is published today alongside the draft Police and Crime Plan, proposes a reduction in the size of the estate from 900,000 sq metres to 600,000 sq metres. To achieve that aim the Met plans to sell its' New Scotland Yard HQ and around 200 of its least used buildings, the majority of which currently have no form of public access. Alongside reductions in civilian staff and savings in IT and back office, the estate plans are projected to save £60m in running costs that can help balance the Met budget and protect frontline policing.
The estate includes 136 front counters open to the public. The overwhelming majority of visits take place at around half of these counters. Across the whole of London, less than 50 crimes a night are now reported at front counters in police stations.
As a result 65 of the least utilised front counters are proposed for closure. 71 will remain open and the draft plan guarantees at least one 24-hour station in each borough, whilst seeking to make it easier and more convenient for Londoners to access the police in new ways.
The emphasis is on bringing police officers to the public. The Met has already guaranteed that every victim of crime in London will get a personal visit from the police, should they want one, and local people will be asked to help identify new locations for crime prevention desks and police bureaus where they can meet the police face-to-face.
These contact points will be in busy high street locations in supermarkets, or co-located with other public services in council buildings or libraries or potentially the Post Office. The Mayor is currently in talks with the Post Office to see how the Met Police might use some of their high street branches to set up these access points, with a pilot earmarked to begin this summer.
This means that overall the number of contact points where Londoners can access the police will increase significantly. The final locations will be determined locally in discussion with councils and partners.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Putting more officers on the streets is key to driving down crime and boosting public confidence in the police and that is why it is at the heart of our plans for policing in the capital. In the current economic climate there is no denying that tough decisions will have to be made but policing in the capital is changing and we must change with it by creating a police force that is ready to tackle the issues that matter most to Londoners.”
The Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne said: “We are determined to be the best police force for London - that's why we need to change. We will be putting more officers into local policing across the capital and devoting more to our Safer Neighbourhoods Teams.
“We are changing the emphasis of what we do. Neighbourhood policing will be the foundation of the service we provide. We will have an Inspector in every neighbourhood area who is held locally accountable to drive down crime and boost the number of criminals we arrest.”
Deputy Mayor for Policing Stephen Greenhalgh said: "The changes proposed by the Mayor will give London the police force it needs for the twenty-first century and reconnect Londoners with the first public service. By putting bobbies before buildings and being smarter about how we use budgets we can not only create a police force to be proud of but one that we can afford. Over the next eight weeks we'll be travelling to every borough in London listening to what people have to say. These views will inform our final plan and help shape the future of policing in London so I’d urge people to get involved."
Other highlights of the draft Police and Crime plan include:
- Creation of a £1m Crime Prevention Fund from which new Safer Neighbourhood Boards in every borough (from 2014) will be able to bid to fund local projects
- Better working with partner organisations to identify crime hotspots and develop smarter solutions to alcohol and drug-related crime including the roll-out of the pilot Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirement
- Extending existing funding agreements for all four rape crisis centres in London, guaranteeing the continuation of their services
During the eight-week consultation period the Deputy Mayor for Policing Stephen Greenhalgh and Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne will host a town hall meeting in every borough in the capital to listen to people’s views. The final Police and Crime Plan will be published by April 2013.
The first of these meetings takes place at the Electric Brixton, Lambeth at 6pm tonight , Wednesday January 9th followed by a later meeting at City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, Southwark at 8pm. For a full list visit www.london.gov.uk/policingevents
To see a copy of the draft Police and Crime Plan visit www.london.gov.uk/mopac
Notes to editors
- The Mayor of London was appointed Police Commissioner for the capital in January 2012 with responsibility for budgeting, prioritising and governing the Metropolitan Police.
- The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, has been appointed to lead this work through his Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC).
- There will be 32 ‘Let’s talk policing in London’ events, one in every borough. For a full list visit www.london.gov.uk/get-involved
- Each event will begin with a presentation from both the Deputy Mayor and the Assistant Commissioner followed by Q&A.
- A final round-up event will take place at City Hall on February 28th
- On October 31st 2012 the Met Police presented data to the MOPAC Challenge Board showing the average number of visitors to police stations across London. To see this presentation and this footfall data visit http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-and-crime/mopac-challenge
- A new footfall survey is taking place alongside the consultation to ensure that this data remains accurate