by Stephen Moore
Friday, February 8, 2013
The public raised concerns over Metropolitan Police plans to close three of the four police station front counters in north Westminster at a testy public meeting.
Despite arranging the meeting for 5pm last Thursday afternoon, up to 150 people squeezed into the Salvation Army’s Regent Hall in Oxford Street to put their concerns directly to Westminster’s policing chiefs.
Under the plans, the 24-hour front counter services at Marylebone and Harrow Road stations will be closed, as will St John’s Wood, which operates daytime opening hours.
The proposals, published by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), also include a projected loss of 201 police officers between 2010 levels and 2015 levels, from 1,615 to 1,414.
There was growing disquiet over the lack of alternatives for front counter services presented in the document, one person saying police were asking them to back a plan “while flying blind”.
Ch Supt Paul Rickett, who leads the day-to-day operations of Westminter Police, said there were “numerous options available” for front counter provision, including space at Westminster Council’s Frampton Street offices where police already work.
“It is a building that already meets our security requirements and it wouldn’t take much to turn that into a usable facility,” he added. “We see that as a way forward. Those are the sort of options we have got to work up.”
Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said the Met was “looking at other forms of crime reporting” that didn’t involve front counters, and is piloting a crime reporting framework that would see people visiting Post Offices “as opposed to a coffee shop or supermarket”.
They also quoted low visitor figures for the front counters under threat.
Anyone wishing to give feedback on the plans can do so via an online questionnaire at www.smart-survey.co.uk/v.asp?i=67232epffs