Croydon North MP Steve Reed and Labour candidate for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan have called for urgent action to prevent the destruction of neighbourhood policing in Croydon after new figures showed Croydon has lost more than 8 out of every 10 Police Community Support Officers.
The borough now has just 30 police community support officers (PCSOs), compared to 173 in March 2010 – an 82 per cent drop despite Croydon being hit hard in the 2011 London riots. PCSOs were introduced by the last Labour government to offer high-visibility patrols to reassure the public and provide eyes and ears on the ground in the fight against crime.
The figures were released by the Metropolitan Police in response to a Freedom of Information request by Mr Reed.
In addition, the number of neighbourhood police bases in Croydon will be slashed from 13 to just 8 under new proposals – a far more drastic cut than other London boroughs.
Speaking in Parliament Steve Reed MP called on the Home Secretary Theresa May to meet with him to discuss public concerns over the future of neighbourhood policing in Croydon, but she refused.
Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London, backed Mr Reed saying that ‘neighbourhood policing is on the brink’, and pledged to make its restoration a top priority for the Metropolitan Police if he is elected in May.
In 2014, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which independently assesses policing, warned that police forces’ “ability to prevent crime will be seriously undermined if their neighbourhood teams are materially eroded”.
The latest crime figures show a rise in a number of serious crimes in Croydon. In the twelve months to February 2016, violent crime rose 17 per cent, domestic crime 10 per cent, and racist and religious hate crime increased by 23 per cent.
Croydon North MP Steve Reed said:
“First we see London’s Tory mayor slashing neighbourhood policing in Croydon, then the Tory Home Secretary refuses a perfectly reasonable request to meet with me to discuss genuine public concerns that this will lead to a further rise in crime. The Tories like to pretend they’re the party of law and order, but the way they’ve treated Croydon shows they couldn’t care less about keeping people in this borough safe.”
Labour candidate for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said:
“Neighbourhood policing is on the brink in Croydon – at a time when even Zac Goldsmith admits that most forms of crime are rising.
“The Tories have made Londoners less safe– with crimes increasingly going unsolved and fewer police officers and PCSOs.
“It’s no wonder more and more people are complaining about never seeing neighbourhood police in their area anymore. And criminals are getting away with their crimes, leaving victims without justice.
“As Mayor, I will ensure that the restoration of real neighbourhood policing is the top priority for the Met – maintaining the role of officers as a visible local presence, helping to prevent and detect crime.”