Although great progress had been made reducing crime in Southwark, it still remains a big problem. Only a fortnight ago there was a fatal stabbing on the Aylesbury estate and extra police were drafted into the area following the attack and remain.
So to have a situation where the number of police is being cut by the Government is unacceptable. It is unacceptable not just to local people but also to the local police themselves who told me about their concerns at the police demonstration earlier this year. In the 12 months to March 2011 the total number of police officers, police community support officers (PCSOs) and staff in the borough was cut by 59 to 1215 and is set to be cut further.
Over the last 10 years we have all worked together locally to increase the number of police so it’s very disappointing that they are now being cut.
And just in the last fortnight we heard that Southwark Borough Police Commander, Charles Griggs, who had been in post for only nine months has been forced to resign. This is very bad news.
The important work of the Southwark Police Commander includes building all the partnerships that make the police work effectively including working with the police commanders in neighbouring boroughs, Lambeth and Lewisham, and building good relations with the council, local organisations and above all the local community. Lack of continuity with our borough commander being forced out before he’s even served a year puts all that important partnership building back to square one.
The presence of the police in every neighbourhood is very important. Not just Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) but also local police stations.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, promised that no police counters would be closed without improved replacements. But now he’s broken his promise and Southwark is set to have three accessible police stations cut to one. This makes the police more remote.
So I’ve signed up to Southwark News’ Police in Crisis campaign. Together with Lambeth and Southwark London Assembly Member, Val Shawcross, Tessa Jowell MP and the Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John, we are taking this up with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. We are also once again challenging Simon Hughes MP because in the House of Commons he voted for the budget cuts which are hitting the police. Simon Hughes needs to stand with us to make sure we’ve got a Southwark Police Commander, we protect the number of police and we don’t let police stations close. He needs to show whose side he’s on.
So we’ve got cuts in the number of police, we’ve lost our Southwark Police Commander and now they’re closing police stations - we’ve got a triple whammy.