Merton's police services could be merged by sharing borough commander
Leadership of Merton and Sutton’s police services could be merged by sharing a single borough commander.
The Metropolitan Police has unveiled proposals to create a single management unit for the two boroughs, which could also signal the closure of either Wimbledon or Mitcham police station as the service tries to cut £514m from its £3.5bn budget by 2015.
Under plans drawn up by the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne – called the One Met model – 14 London boroughs could see their most senior policeman shared with a neighbouring police service.
Basic Command Units (BCUs) would be created in a bid to reduce duplication of senior roles and redeploy officers to operational work.
Merton’s borough commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Williams, denied he was worried about his job and insisted no decisions had been made.
He said: “The Met is continually going through change and we are looking at sharing all sorts of services and these plans are being looked at by very senior leadership.
“The work to develop basic command units is about sharing resources but the front line – neighbourhood and response policing – can be protected.
“Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has been on record to say there will be 2,000 extra officers doing neighbourhood response and policing.”
Merton council leader Stephen Alambritis said: “The police have had some time to work on this because of the Olympics and I am concerned the Government has adopted a “cliff-edge” approach to police where we say ‘Thanks for your help during the summer, but we don’t need you now’.
“I have no issues with sharing services, but a borough commander provides someone who the chief executive and leader of the council can liaise with at the highest level.”
As well as merging that position in Merton and Sutton, the Met has proposed a single BCU that would merge 14 boroughs: Richmond with Kingston; Bexley with Bromley; Hounslow with Hillingdon; Barnet with Harrow; Havering with Barking; and Hammersmith & Fulham with Kensington & Chelsea.
A Met police spokesman said: “The proposed model for a BCU will consist of one or more boroughs, led by a single senior officer.
Custody, intelligence provision, resource management and performance are among the services which could be shared across a BCU, but response and neighbourhood policing will continue to be delivered at a local level.
“In order to decide which boroughs could be grouped together to form a BCU and which should remain on their own; the overall levels of risk, policing complexity and operational efficiency have been assessed.”