The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [9]

Session date: 
July 6, 2017
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Andrew Dismore AM:  There have been worrying recent press reports that 40 more police stations are to close.  Which police stations are to go due to the Government’s funding shortfall?

Answer

Answer for The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [9]

Answer for The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [9]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We are going to consult shortly in relation to what we have to do to meet the requirement from the Government to make £400 million worth of savings by 2021.  You will be aware, because you are on the Assembly, that the former Mayor took a decision to reduce police front counters from 136 in 2013 to 73 today.  The consultation is meaningful so I could not tell you which ones may be closed.  You will be aware some police station front counters are in a police station and some are not.  Therefore, to use the words ‘front counters’ is probably more helpful, but I am afraid some of them will be police stations.  The reality we are talking about is reaching a position where it could be - could be - by the end of this year that each borough only has one police station front counter with maybe two, three, four or five having another one because of the footfall.  Those are the numbers we are talking about.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  There is no doubt this measure has been forced by the underfunding by the Government.  However, any uncertainty in the necessary delay in publishing the detailed proposals is unwelcome. 

 

Would you agree it is important that alternative arrangements for the public to contact the MPS are in place before any more closures and that those measures have the confidence of the public?  For example, the 101 number.  I have had worrying reports post the Camden borough merger of people waiting 20 minutes or more for calls to be answered and then hanging up in frustration.  Can you ensure this is sorted out before further closures take place?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We certainly intend to do so.  I will bring in the Deputy Commissioner because he will tell you of some of the increases in 999 calls in the last period.  Deputy Mayor [for Policing and Crime] Sophie Linden wants to learn the lessons from the previous round of where there was successful consultation and where there was not.  You are right, there is a need to get alternative methods in place before we have to remove the police station front counters.  I think the figure is a 30% increase in 999s?

 

Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  A 22% increase over two years in 999.  The top end of call volumes has gone up. 

 

I have heard some of those stories around 101.  There is a 101 performance plan about how we can lift some of that.  There is some other presence that is now available.  We have full online crime reporting.  We have soft launched that.  We have not gone out with a big bang and said, “It is here and it is available”, but we are already at 10% of crime coming in that way.  Back in the day you used to have to go into a police station for a road traffic incident, get a form, fill it in and send it back to us in the post.  It is all online now.  There is a real step‑change going on in terms of our digital offer and that is absolutely what we see. 

 

The dates with the consultation around the estate are linked as well to the rollout of officers having tablets.  There will be the ability to walk up to an officer in the street who can access all of those services; be they a neighbourhood office or response officer that is all linked together.  I absolutely agree with the premise behind your question, you have to have other offers and other service offers available.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I think it is 20,000 tablets.

 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Another issue, especially in outer London, is how far the dedicated ward officers have to travel from where they parade at their station to the wards in which they work which can often be several miles away.  It can sometimes be a long and difficult journey by public transport, in Barnet, for example, from the current 24‑hour/seven‑day station to the borough’s northern and eastern wards.

 

Will you ensure arrangements are made either, ideally, for officers to parade in or near their wards or to transport them to their wards as quickly as possible so that their time is not wasted in travelling when they should be doing something rather more useful?

 

Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  I cannot promise to get them all near their wards.  That would be quite some achievement.  I would probably spend most of the budget getting property back.  The reality is that what we are looking at is where we can co‑locate with other London services, colleagues either in the emergency services and/or local authorities.  We are having quite good debates around that.  There are a couple of practical problems that probably outside, given your time constraints, I will talk about.  They are simple things such as the fact you have to be able to download your body‑worn video and we need a network to connect to.  They are not insurmountable and we can bridge those.