Hackney police to merge with Tower Hamlets as part of £325m cut to Met spending
- Credit: Archant
Police in Hackney will merge with their counterparts in Tower Hamlets later this year as part of a desperate effort to cut £325million from the running costs of the cash-strapped Met.
Scotland Yard’s current 32-borough model will be replaced by forming 12 larger basic command units (BCU) that will share buildings and resources.
Most BCUs will consist of two boroughs, but could be up to four in areas like west London where demands on policing are lower – like in Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Wandsworth.
Hackney will merge with Tower Hamlets in November, along with Enfield and Haringey; Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster; and Sutton, Bromley and Croydon.
This will be the fourth tranche of a staggered roll-out taking 12 months.
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The move comes as the Met is faced with the pressure of saving hundreds of millions of pounds by 2021/2.
Police officer numbers are expected to fall to 30,000 by April, from a peak of 33,404 in 2009, and this will decrease further in the next four years.
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Police officers will not face redundancies, but a reduction in numbers will be achieved through “natural wastage”.
The combined numbers of officers in Hackney and Tower Hamlets will reduce over time, but chiefs hope any detrimental impact will be mitigated by increased efficiencies and economies of scale.
In a statement Scotland Yard said: “We need to plan for a future with less and become more resilient so we can continue to meet our financial and operational challenges, and our current and future policing challenges – terrorism and safeguarding in particular.
“Without significant changes in how we manage our resources we will be unable to meet these challenges.”
BCUs will each deliver the same core local policing functions – neighbourhoods, emergency response, CID and safeguarding – and will each be led by a chief superintendent who will be the BCU Commander.
Thematic, rather than geographical, leadership will be broken down into neighbourhoods, emergency response and safeguarding vulnerable people – which was previously dealt with by a central unit.
Two dedicated ward officers (DWOs) and one police community support officer (PCSO) will remain in every London ward, but one centralised team will deal with issues like anti-social behaviour and licensing.
Emergency calls, which are on the rise, will be dealt with across borough boundaries.
The expectation is that patrol bases will remain in Stoke Newington and Bethnal Green, but this does not rule out the possibility that officers could called be called, for example, from the Isle of Dogs to deal with a crime in Dalston, or vice versa.
Response officers will to be trained to investigate some of the crimes they attend rather than passing them onto other officers, which the Met says will allow detectives in CID to concentrate on more serious crimes and proactive work.
The BCU model has already been tested in two areas since 2016, bringing together Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge in the east, and Camden and Islington in inner north London.
Ealing, Hillingdon, and Hounslow; and Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Wandsworth are next on the list.
Deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons, who is leading the work, said: “Local policing is at the heart of what the Met does every day and we will improve it further by offering a service which is more personal and responsive to the needs of Londoners.”