Q&A: Police front counter closures
The Government has cut police budgets severely - the Met has had to find £600 million in savings since 2010, and must save a further £400 million by 2021. These cuts have forced the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to make some very difficult decisions to prioritise public safety and protect officers on the beat. This includes closing some police front counters.
Why are police front counters closing?
People don’t use police stations the way they once did. In 2016, just eight per cent of crimes were reported at police front counters, down from 22 per cent in 2006. Rather than make further cuts to frontline policing, the Mayor has taken the very tough decision to close several front counters, and sell some police buildings.
How many will be closed?
Thirty-eight police front counters are closing. A 24/7 police front counter will remain open in every London borough. Savings from the closures are being put towards restoring real neighbourhood policing - the Mayor is on track to deliver an extra dedicated police officer in every neighbourhood ward this year. These officers will be based at new hubs in their local neighbourhoods and hold community sessions every week.
How did you make this decision?
The Mayor held the widest possible consultation, with public meetings in every London borough. Around 4,000 Londoners submitted their views, which were carefully considered. In light of this, some changes were made to plans. These include retaining the 24/7 front counters at Dagenham and Bexleyheath.
Does this mean fewer officers on the beat?
No. The Mayor is determined to protect frontline policing at all costs, and these measures will save money on buildings so officers can remain out on the beat. However, if the Government does not provide additional funding, the number of officers in London could fall below 27,500 by 2021, the lowest level in 19 years.
How can I report a crime?
In March, a new digital service was launched to allow Londoners to report a crime online. In an emergency, 999 remains the best way to contact the police, otherwise you can dial the non-emergency 101 number. If you’d rather report a crime face-to-face, a 24/7 front counter will remain open in every London borough.