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Hampstead campaigners cheered by promises of new neighbourhood policing model

PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 July 2014

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe took part in a question and answer session at the school (pic credit: Angela Blake)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe took part in a question and answer session at the school (pic credit: Angela Blake)

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A controversial shake-up of policing that many claim has contributed to “ultra violent” crime in Hampstead could be watered down – after the head of the Metropolitan Police appeared to admit the changes had gone too far.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told the London Assembly’s police and crime committee that the London-wide revamp of neighbourhood policing, which kicked in last June, may have got the “balance” wrong.

His admission has been welcomed by Hampstead campaigners who have criticised the changes ever since they were introduced.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, chairman of the Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhoods Panel, said: “This is long overdue.

“We warned the previous borough commander, John Sutherland, that the new policing model would be a disaster.

“The effects were felt by each and every victim of the ultra violent attacks which were perpetrated on residents in Hampstead Town and Frognal and Fitzjohns over the past few months.”

The new neighbourhood policing model reduced the numbers of officers dedicated to individual wards, while shifting more into squads covering larger geographical areas.

Since the measures came into effect on June 24 last year, each ward in Camden has had just one dedicated Pc and one PCSO.

Some Hampstead residents feel that, along with the closure of Hampstead Police Station, the changes brought a reduction in police visibility, contributing to a string of violent crimes including robberies by hammer-wielding moped gangs and muggings of parents on the school run.

Sir Bernard said a high-level review is being undertaken and that a new structure may be presented by the end of this month.

“There’s got to be more dedication of those neighbourhood officers to the wards,” he told the committee last Thursday.

“The balance has gone the wrong way... we should be able to bring back what that new model will look like at the end of July, and I think it will meet many of the concerns and criticisms that have been expressed about the first model.”

A petition calling for more visible policing in Hampstead was signed by more than 1,700 people before being delivered to 10 Downing Street three weeks ago.

Ms Learmond-Criqui added: “Changes need to be made.

“Hopefully we will see better resources and structures which will ameliorate the effect of these historic changes.”

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