Plans to downgrade Mitcham police station confirmed
Merton is set to lose one of its two 24-hour police stations, it was confirmed today as the Mayor’s office begins a consultation into major cost-cutting at the Metropolitan police.
As the Wimbledon Guardian revealed in December, Mitcham police station would be downgraded into a daytime-only police station, with nearly all 32 London boroughs left with one station manned around the clock.
The document, published by Boris Johnson’s office today, confirms Wimbledon police station, in the town centre in Queen’s Road, would remain open all night.
The unused Morden police office, next to Merton Civic Centre, would be sold.
Sixty police stations would be lost across the capital, with Westminster the only borough to have two open all night, down from six currently.
Bases used by safer neighbourhood teams are also in the firing line, with nine "access points" proposed across the borough in council-run buildings, including Merton Civic Centre in Morden.
There now begins an eight-week consultation with residents and community leaders about Mr Johnson's policiing priorities in London, which he said is committing to increasing police officer numbers at the expense of "under-used and outmoded buildings".
The Metropolitan police has almost 500 buildings, costing £203m a year, and the plan is to slash their property holdings by one third.
The Mayor also revealed he is talks with the Post Office to see how police might use some of their high street branches to set up the new access points.
Mr Johnson said: "In the current economic climate, there is no denying that tough decisions will have to be made but policing in the capital is changing and we must change with it by creating a police force that is ready to tackle the issue that matter most to Londoners.
Merton’s borough commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Williams, said in December that Mitcham police station was already not operating 24 hours a day and the new contact points would be an improvement for the public.
He said: “The local policing model provides real opportunities within the Merton borough to provide more access to the public, not less.
“I’ll be putting officers into libraries and children’s centres at places they go at times they already go there.
“We will publicise in advance where our officers will be, the idea being of providing more access, not less, and they will set up a main police shop for a couple of hours so we will get more access.”
Government cuts mean the Met needs to save £500m by 2015 and plans have already been announced to sell off its iconic headquarters in Scotland Yard, near St James’s Park, to move to a smaller facility in Whitehall.
The Mayor’s deputy mayor for policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, and the Met’s Assistant Commissioner, Simon Byrne, are due to discuss the new policing strategy at a public meeting at Merton Civic Centre on Tuesday, February 26, at 6pm.