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Camden and Islington police merger: Hampstead panel chairman slams Met tie-up trial

PUBLISHED: 15:11 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:35 21 February 2018

Sgts Andy Catherwood and Ailsa Naish with Hampstead safer neighbourhood panel chairman Susan West. Picture: JON KING

Sgts Andy Catherwood and Ailsa Naish with Hampstead safer neighbourhood panel chairman Susan West. Picture: JON KING

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The chairman of a community group charged with shining a spotlight on policing has attacked the merger of borough forces.

Neighbours, Hampstead Heath constables and Met officers attended the meeting at Hampstead Community Centre. Picture: JON KINGNeighbours, Hampstead Heath constables and Met officers attended the meeting at Hampstead Community Centre. Picture: JON KING

Speaking at a Hampstead safer neighbourhood panel meeting, Susan West slammed the tie-up between Camden and Islington police as a “rush job”.

At a packed public meeting in Hampstead Community Centre, Ms West said: “The merger was not properly evaluated.

“There was talk about nothing being done until the merger was discussed, but that didn’t happen. It was rushed through,” she added before describing the planning and management as poor.

Camden and Islington were among the first forces to share staff, buildings, vehicles and technology in a pilot scheme launched last year. Last week London mayor Sadiq Khan announced mergers will be rolled out across the capital, blaming government cuts to police budgets. The government says the Met will receive £2.5billion for 2018-2019 and has £240m in reserves. Officer numbers are also set to fall to 30,000 by April.

But the panel’s chairman said communities weren’t given a say when the merger’s success was measured. Ms West said: “Panels are a great way for the Met to engage with communities, but engagement with safer neighbourhood panels was non-existent. This was always going to get through regardless of how successful it was.”.

However, Sgt Andy Catherwood said acting borough commander Nick Davies would most likely argue the merger was a “great success” with a drop in the time taken to respond to emergencies and 90 percent of calls responded over the course of the trial.

During the meeting – attended by residents, members of the Heath constabulary and Hampstead bobbies – it emerged every ward in the north of Camden saw rises in reported crime numbers this January compared to February last year.

In Hampstead there were 10 more incidents, but in Haverstock ward crimes jumped from 100 to 133 over the same period. Crimes in West Hampstead leapt from 70 in February 2017 to 115 last month.

Pc Edward Bromilow said the “moped menace” fuelled the rises, but it was difficult for police in Hampsteadto make a difference because of insufficient training and resources. Most efforts are focused on prevention, he said.

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