The hidden cost of our community policing

Some years ago, the charity for which I volunteer was visited by a beat policemen who was urging all shopkeepers to band together to demand free CCTV. I made a mental note that it might well be free to business taxpayers, but it certainly is not as far

Some years ago, the charity for which I volunteer was visited by a beat policemen who was urging all shopkeepers to band together to demand 'free' CCTV. I made a mental note that it might well be free to business taxpayers, but it certainly is not as far as council taxpayers are concerned.

At the police community liaison committees I have attended, I notice that I never receive an answer on the cost of the local force, or the Community Support Team, despite such data not being strategic, as far as I know. Is it a proper use of police time to act as a galvaniser of shopkeepers' demands?

For two decades I have been asking when crime definitions in police force statistics will permit their clear-up rates to be compared, their respective rates of recruitment, early retirement and sick leave, and why the vastly expensive City Force does not merge into the Met Police.

In 2000, Hansard reported the City Police as being 35 to 40 times as expensive as the Met, and I observe the Met covers 619 times the area and over 1,000 times the resident population.

I also observe that, unlike the MPA, none of the members of the City Police Committee is elected and, indeed, that 18 of the 25 city wards are resident-free but still represented by common councillors.

I suppose the business voters, whose number was increased by Blair, enjoy policing privileges just as they do a special LEA status (with a single state school, Sir John Cass), special observation rights in city courts (eg the Old Bailey), special voting rights (multiple votes and weighted votes in local elections), special NHS governance rights (14 city wards, eight resident-free, are represented on the UCLH Foundation Trust's Council), special nomination rights for the pupils of the City of London School, and special rate precept ceilings in the GLC/ILEA era. Does the Freedom of Information Act apply to the City or north London?

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DS SHEPHERD

Vivian Avenue, NW4

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