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Plans to close half of London police stations unveiled

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Close Police station
Image captionThere are currently 73 operational police station front counters, down from 136 since 2013

Half of London's police station front counters will close under new plans announced by the Mayor of London.

Sadiq Kahn said budget constraints had left him "no choice". Scotland Yard estimates it will need to make £400m of savings by 2020 under current funding.

Under proposals each of the Met's 32 boroughs will be left with one 24-hour counter. There are currently 73 working counters, down from 136 since 2013.

Conservatives said the mayor was using government funding as a "scapegoat".

London Assembly member Gareth Bacon said: ""The fact is the Met has found three quarters of the savings it requires and no announcement has yet been made about future funding."

Mr Khan set out the new plans in a consultation document on public access and engagement published on Friday.

City Hall says that closing "poorly used" front counters will save £10m each year - equivalent to the cost of 170 police constables.

Since 2010, the Met has had to find £600m of savings.

Cressida Dick and Sadiq KhanImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionSadiq Kahn said current funding left him "no choice" but to close half of London's police front counters

Some 8% of crimes were reported at police front counters in 2016, down from 22% in 2006, according to official figures. About 70% of crimes are reported by phone.

Under the plans, remaining police buildings will get upgraded IT services while frontline officers will be provided with tablet computers - in an an effort to boost the reporting of crime online.

Mr Khan said: "The huge government cuts to the Metropolitan Police Service have left us with no choice but to take drastic action to protect the frontline of policing.

"My top priority is keeping Londoners safe, and every pound saved by closing a front counter is a pound of savings that we do not have to find by reducing the frontline."

Met HQ
Image captionSince 2010, the Met has had to find £600m of savings and estimate they will need to find another £400m in the next three years

When former mayor Boris Johnson cut police station front counters in 2013, Mr Khan criticised the move, suggesting Londoners could be forced to report crime at police "contact points" in McDonald's restaurants.

The Home Office said Scotland Yard has had a "broadly flat" budget since 2015.

A spokesman said: "There is more money and more officers for each Londoner than anywhere else in the country.

"This government will continue to ensure that the Metropolitan Police have the resources they need to cut crime and keep our communities safe."

The public consultation is open until 6 October.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-40607533

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Zulu 22

Perhaps it is about time that the Mayor and the SMT actually asked the public for their opinion, or do they not want the public to have access to an officer. They are already responsible for a huge loss of faith from the public and, who get it in the neck, Yes the over worked officer trying to perform 10 tasks at once.

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Cathedral Bobby
55 minutes ago, Zulu 22 said:

Perhaps it is about time that the Mayor and the SMT actually asked the public for their opinion, or do they not want the public to have access to an officer. They are already responsible for a huge loss of faith from the public and, who get it in the neck, Yes the over worked officer trying to perform 10 tasks at once.

This is what most provincial forces already have. I would rather see the loss of some building front counter access than further police officer cuts. There are hard choices to be made and this is because of Government cuts. Most people I suspect will accept the loss of front counter access as opposed to more frontline policing jobs.

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HazRat

I agree, close the most under-used front counters. I remember being the night duty station officer every five weeks and literally pulling my hair out as I had nothing to do.

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ForceHQ

This seams to of had little effect in the counties as most people ring or email the police these days, ideally there would be some from of online portal for HORT/1 and section 165A seizures etc...

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Cathedral Bobby
56 minutes ago, HazRat said:

I agree, close the most under-used front counters. I remember being the night duty station officer every five weeks and literally pulling my hair out as I had nothing to do.

Perhaps in your case HazRat we could consult the public about what use we could make of the piles of your hair now littering the floor of the said nick. Perhaps a cushion used by counter staff to keep them comfy when sat with nothing to do :rolleyes:. Question is does this little emoji now look anything like you given your hair loss ha ha. For the record working front office was a complete waste of time.

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HazRat
59 minutes ago, Cathedral Bobby said:

Perhaps in your case HazRat we could consult the public about what use we could make of the piles of your hair now littering the floor of the said nick. Perhaps a cushion used by counter staff to keep them comfy when sat with nothing to do :rolleyes:. Question is does this little emoji now look anything like you given your hair loss ha ha. For the record working front office was a complete waste of time.

It's a pretty good likeness

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David

*gentle nudge back to topic*

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HobnobGTi

Agreed with most saying that of all the things where savings should be made front counters is quite a sensible one - there was one on my old borough and one my friend on another borough still covers occasionally where you were 'lucky' if you had more than one or two 'customers' in a 9 hour shift. Hardly cost effective

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Techie1

Agree about the lack of demand on front offices, something I've seen too. 

Perhaps they could take phone calls in the meantime - decentralise the contact centre! Or more likely stick an intercom or phone on the outside of the building and link that back to the contact centre. 

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Cathedral Bobby

In the force areas in the North East they have phones outside for people to report which as you say Techie go through to control rooms. I have to travel eight miles since my bank closed my local bank to put in cheques.

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Milankovitch

They did this in an area I used to work in after monitoring the useage of front counters over a 3-4 month period beforehand. The station I worked at had 16 hours of front counter cover each day (0600-2200) and was getting two visits a day on average... Massive outcry when they reduced it to 10 hours per day but the reality is they don't see the volume coming in that they used to and the money can be better spent elsewhere.

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JulietAlpha1

People like the idea of having a police station with a front office. I'd put it in the box with tunics, whistles and 'local bobbies'. 

It'd be nice to have loads of 24/7 front offices but what are they bringing to the service? Not a lot. Even when evidence is provided and a sensible cost-saving measure is taken, people don't like it because they're thinking with their hearts not their heads.

I think the Mayor's approach is correct in this case and I hope he doesn't go back on it when a load of sentimental Londoners object. The alternative, of course, is less police officer. Which I'm sure nobody wants to see either, so it's really a case of choosing the lesser evil.

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MerseyLLB

I'd support front counter retention if we had a backbone and told people for low level or low risk crime "There's no patrols to come and see you. If you wish to report this face to face go to the station."

But we dont. People ask to speak to an officer where there is no need so we tie up patrols going to addresses.

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Beaker

My force has closed a load of front counters, and I don't even think the front desks are open past 22:00 in the entire county. They do have phones outside the working stations though. They're now talking about closing more, and there is some public grumbling. If they're not being used then what is the point of them?

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