Hampstead residents to raise cash for their own exclusive police force as crime turns ‘more violent’
- Credit: Archant
Hampstead residents are considering forking out more than £600,000 to pay for their own police officers amid concerns about an increase in violent crime and cuts to neighbourhood policing.
People who live in the Frognal and Fitzjohns and Hampstead Town wards are discussing raising the cash to pay for two PCs and a Sergeant dedicated to the neighbourhood for three years at a cost of just over £200,000 per year.
Jessica Learmond-Criqui, who chairs the Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer neighbourhood panel, has accused the Met of “pillaging” Hampstead’s safer neighbourhood teams as the force has cut £600 million from its budget and looks to slash a further £800million by 2020.
She said since the closure of Hampstead police station in January last year crime in Hampstead “Has taken on a more violent and aggressive quality than we are used to.”
As the Met looks at scrapping the PCSOs, she also warns of a “breakdown of basic contract between citizen and state” as people are no longer being protected by the police.
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She believes a solution is for residents to take matter into their own hands. Under the Police Act if they fund two officers they will then be provided with another two for free.
She says in a newsletter sent out to neighbours. “I have been scratching my head about what to do in Hampstead. One solution which I have been exploring recently has been working with the Met to acquire dedicated police officers who will work only in Hampstead and who won’t be pinched to perform other duties as happens with some members of our Safer Neighbourhood Team on a fairly regular basis.”
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Ms Learmond-Criqui has set up a poll at www.doodle.com/poll for her neighbours to give feedback and say how much they could contribute, If she gets enough interest and pledges she will then approache the police and Camden Council with proposals.
She said: “One person has already indicated that they would make a substantial payment yearly towards this cost.
Ms Learmond-Criqui said “The reaction so far has been that people are interested, but they are disgusted by this state of affairs..some feel we pay enough tax and should not have to pay more for an essential public service,however, the overwhelming view was supportive”
Susan West, who chairs the Hampstead Town panel, said: “‘In principle it’s an idea worth exploring. It’s just a pity we are being driven in this direction.”
A Met spokesman said local authorities can currently fund their own police under the MOPAC MetPatrol Plus Scheme whereby police officers are purchased by London boroughs on a buy-one-get-one-free basis.
Arrangements are formalised with an agreement pursuant to Section 92 of the Police Act 1996 - Grants by Local Authorities.
Requests for the provision of police officers, other than from a local authority, may also be considered under Section 25 of the Police Act on a full cost recovery basis.