Community police teams will “cease to exist” in their current form as the Met undergoes a massive shakeup of its staff in the face of budget cuts.
Merton Police’s borough commander, Darren Williams, confirmed the “1-2-3” safer neighbourhood team (SNT) model would be scrapped, but did not know what would replace them until January 2013.
Under former London mayor Ken Livingstone, SNTs were introduced in 2004 to ensure each borough’s ward had a minimum policing team of one sergeant, two police constables (PCs) and three community support officers (PCSOs).
But at a public meeting in Vestry Hall, Mitcham, on Thursday July 5, Detective Chief Superintendent Williams said he preferred police officers to be deployed more heavily in areas of higher crime.
He said: “The new model, I don’t know what it looks like, but the current safer neighbourhood model will cease to exist.
“What I can assure you of is no ward will be left empty.
“The Met is more scientific than we used to be and we know the current 1-2-3 model is can’t be delivered.”
The Metropolitan Police was put under a recruitment freeze in September 2009 which meant staff leaving Merton Police were not being replaced until it was lifted in February 2011.
Last year, Merton’s SNTs were shown to be under strength by one-third and, Det Ch Supt Williams said, it was unclear as to how many of the 2,000 staff now being hired by the Met would be allocated to Wimbledon and Mitcham police stations.
He added: “I don’t know yet the number of staff we will be having, but we will be given a number of officers and it is for us to decide how to deploy those officers.
"Those extra officers are coming from Scotland Yard and from those currently doing back office functions.
“I don’t know of that 2000 how many are coming to Merton. That is all being debated at commissioner level.
“I would like to think we will be getting a chunk of that 2,000. All 32 boroughs are hoping for that.
Chief Supt Williams said extra police were being drafted into Wimbledon from other parts of the country to help police the Olympic Games tennis matches at the All England Club.
Labour councillor Jeff Hanna, who represents Merton for Pollards Hill ward in Mitcham, attended the meeting and was scathing about the Met’s plans.
Coun Hanna said: “I have no doubt that the commander is a good officer seeking manage his resources well, but he was unable to give us any real reassurance about policing in Merton.
“Scrapping SNTs is bad for policing. It is the local knowledge and direct involvement with the people living in their area that has made SNTs such a success and has reduced crime levels.”
“The only reason for reorganising is to disguise cuts in the numbers of officers. We are already short of officers in Merton.
"The Olympics are being used as a smokescreen for postponing embarrassing announcements about future staffing levels.
“The 2,000 so called ‘extra officers’ were just an invention from off the top of Boris Johnson's head when he was under pressure during the Mayoral election, with no explanation of where these officers will come from, or above exactly what figure they are ‘extra’.”