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Police cull half their crime prevention team

PUBLISHED: 14:09 20 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:53 07 September 2010

POLICE in Camden are axing half their number of crime prevention officers, without any consultation with the public. Currently, six specially-trained officers work in the communities to issue advice on topics such as personal safety, shoplifting

Ed Thomas

POLICE in Camden are axing half their number of crime prevention officers, without any consultation with the public.

Currently, six specially-trained officers work in the communities to issue advice on topics such as personal safety, shoplifting and burglary prevention.

They also carry out victim support and surveys to help identify crime hotspots, and run stalls and workshops at community events, such as the fairs on Hampstead Heath.

But as part of the Met's ongo-ing drive to save money, Camden will soon be left with just three of these specialist officers.

"I personally think the police are being foolish in going down this route," said one crime prevention officer, who must remain anonymous.

"My fear is that it will lead to a loss of crime prevention expert-ise, and Camden will be left with a gap in knowledge and skills.

"None of the crime prevention officers are happy about this, but there's nothing we can do - it's a Met decision which will affect every single borough.

"The three of us who are not successful in keeping our posit-ions will probably end up going back to normal policing duties or joining a Safer Neighbourhood Team."

The plans have angered those involved in community safety around the borough. Redmond Szell, co-ordinator of the Gayton Road neighbourhood watch scheme in Hampstead, said: "This will be a tragic loss. Terri Weston, Hampstead's crime prevention officer has done such a great job. She goes to schools and goes to the homes of the elderly.

"One scheme she organised was the 'message in a bottle' where elderly people would leave details of any medication in a bottle in the fridge so that if an ambulance crew ever came they would see the sticker and know where to look.

"Jobs like this simply can't be done by the Safer Neighbourhood Teams who are already over-worked. They just won't have the time. This is such a kick in the teeth."

The crime prevention cull comes amid consultation on the police's controversial plans to sell off Hampstead and Kentish Town police stations. Such a sale, if allowed, would raise millions of pounds to help police London's streets.

Nigel Steward, chair of the Hampstead Safer Neighbourhood Panel, said: "There has been absolutely no consultation on these plans to reduce the number of crime prevention officers by 50 per cent at a stroke.

"I know of the outstanding quality of the officers in the north of the borough from many personal experiences, as do other residents who have written to me to express their utter dismay at the apparent loss of highly trained and motivated police overnight. I hope it is not too late to appeal for some common sense to be applied."

Camden police said the plan is to have one crime prevention officer for each of the northern, central and southern 'clusters' of Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

"All boroughs are making savings around crime prevention officers and the way that the borough is set up in to clusters, it makes business sense to potentially reduce the number we have to three," said Super-intendent Martin Richards.

"We have submitted a proposal to Territorial Policing headquart-ers outlining this for their appro-val. A final decision has not yet been made, however it is anticipa-ted that there will be a reduction.

"I would like to reassure mem-bers of the public in Camden that they will not suffer a lack in ser-vice, the borough will still pro-vide the same quality of advice they expect."

ed.thomas@hamhigh.co.uk

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