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Met borough mergers 'the right way to go'


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Decision will be officially made later this month but Cressida Dick already says she is 'satisfied' with concept.

Commissioner Cressida Dick. Photo: Press Association

Commissioner Cressida Dick


A decision on whether Met Police boroughs will be merged is to be made this month – but Commissioner Cressida Dick already says she is "utterly satisfied" by the idea.

Trials of larger command areas have been underway in Islington and Camden, as well as Barking and Dagenham, with Havering and Redbridge boroughs for over a year.

Response officers have handled more investigation work, and initially covered larger areas when responding to calls.

Last summer response times shot up in the so-called pathfinder areas.

Police staff also threatened to strike over the impact it had on their working patterns.

But Commissioner Cressida Dick says that the problems have been ironed out and that a final decision will be taken later this month.

"Response was very difficult for a period in the east particularly in the summer, not only is it as good as it was before we started the pathfinders now, it is better," she told the London Assembly.

"Longer term I am utterly satisfied that this model is the right way to go.

"I've seen the statistics, I've talked to the people, I've been out to the boroughs on many occasions and I know what we're trying to achieve in terms of improving our investigations, improving our safeguarding, improving our local policing in terms of dedicated ward officers and maintaining a very effective response service. I believe that this evaluation will show this is the right way to go."

Some force insiders believe the move has been inevitable for some time.

Assembly member Andrew Dismore asked Comm Dick if it was true that dedicated ward and schools officers had been moved into response teams to improve the times in which officers in those boroughs could get to emergency calls, and if this had happened to "game" the results of testing the model.

She said that officers had been redeployed due to demand but said it is not happening any longer and response times remain good. She said there was no "gaming" involved.

Mr Dismore told Police Oracle that he has concerns about resources leaving less busy boroughs for higher crime ones they could be merged with, a lack of public consultation on the plan and further impacts on response times and safeguarding.

The Barnet and Camden representative added: "It is true that it is all about saving money but I have been asking to be told how much they think this is going to save since September and I have had nothing.

"Until they have figures how can we be expected to disagree or agree with this?

"If all that's being saved is one or two senior officers' salaries it doesn’t amount to much for all the other issues there are."

The force had not responded to Police Oracle's request for a timescale on the introduction of the plan, it's cost-saving estimate or the date the decision is to be made before this article went live.

The Met announced last year it is also likely to merge specialist crime and operations units, with more of the functions delivered at borough level.

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Having lived and breathed this concept for almost a year, it actually started 20/01/17 I can say with my hand on my heart is is NOT the way to go with policing. I have posted my concerns on various topics in several places on this forum, and I regret to report most are still unsolved. 

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Merging areas very rarely works - especially when they normally reduce resources afterwards. An area that used to be covered by 7 response stations in my force is now covered by 1, as a result patrols are being sent on long blue light runs and single crewed patrols are waiting for a second car for a lot longer than they used to. 

I can't see how response doing more of the investigation work actually helps with calls for service covering a larger area either, our merger has only worked because we do the bare minimum now - even for named offender incidents we take a complainant statement, crime it and send it for an investigations officer to take any further statements/obtain CCTV/arrest or VA offender at a later date unless there is serious threat/harm/risk and so a need for us to make the arrest. 

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I am not in the Met but it seems that this is going along the same lines as the rest of the forces around the country.

I get the feeling that what is being said is utter nonsense, I mean in the sense that this is somehow better. It would be far better if bosses just said “look we don’t have the money, therefore we don’t have the resources, so we will have to make do”. I just don’t like the suggestion that it will be better.

I work in a metropolitan area with all the usual demands. It’s amazing to look back 10 years or so. There are around a third less officers per shift, no investigation teams now as they have been removed, no other squads or teams and no case builders or anything like that. Every crime bar the top level stuff is kept on team. NPT have been cut massively over this time too.

There used to be 2 working Police stations in the one area however now it is one.

Add to the mix that demand has gone through the roof in recent years particularly around expectations with safeguarding.

I am sure that this is very typical of most areas. It certainly can’t be described as better in any way for the public.

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It might be that I'm thick and that's why I'm still a PC but...

Bigger area, less response officers and a bigger workload.

How is that 'Better?

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Depends what the base line is.
Three stations parading a Sgt and 10 ten years ago cut to 2 Sgts and 25 out of one 'hub' doesn't sound 'better' but if those three stations had been subject to various cuts meaning a year ago station A paraded a Sgt and 8, station B was a satellite with a leaking roof, 4 constables and no Sgt, and station C had a Sgt and 6 then the 'hub' provides more cover.

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I understand that however as an example my current BCU used to be served by 3 police stations. Whilst the nick is roughly central, if you drew a 5 minute circle round the nicks you can see how response times can easily increase.

Centralisation  also changes the nature of patrol patterns. If you overlaid GPS data onto a map before centralisation occurred you would likely see that the extremes of the BCU would have received far more patrol time at the extremities - especially close to shift change time.

Times are different now in modern police stations but in my old force you could see how bad things were on section by looking at the size of the parade room. Clearly designed when you might have had a minimum of 2 Sgts and 16-18 PCs it used to feel eerily empty with 1+4 On days when we were short! 

Of course administratively there will be efficiencies and it will provide an easier surge capacity to provide spontaneous deployment of resources without the traditional cast iron borders we imposed on ourselves.

Back to the negatives - increasing the workload by including crime allocation put the project back into the unrealistic box. Increasing remit considerably in this way should result in a substantial uplift in numbers on team and that's not what I'm hearing from friends in the Met.

Though that said, they were one of the forces who until now had been proportionally protected from frontline cuts compared to other forces.

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