Potential cuts threaten community policing in Hackney
- Credit: PA
»The numbers of police community support officers in Hackney could be slashed, it was claimed this week.
Currently the average safer neighbourhood team (SNT) in Hackney is made up of three PCSOs, one police sergeant and two Pcs.
But Cllr Sophie Linden, cabinet member for crime, told a council meeting last Thursday that under the Mayor of London’s draft police and crime plan, PCSO and Pcnumbers would be cut to one each per SNT.
Cllr Linden raised her concerns about the shock cuts after Cllr Rick Muir asked her about the future of Hackney policing and whether SNTs would be adequately resourced.
The proposals come just weeks after it was announced that Hackney police station, in Lower Clapton Road, Clapton, would be closed in a £500 million pound cost-cutting exercise for the Metropolitan Police.
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At the same time as the announcement, Hackney borough commander Ch Supt Matthew Horne announced in his blog that the Met Police would use such cost savings to increase the number of Pcs by 2,000 – up from 23,000 to 25,000.
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Cllr Linden said she was concerned by any reduction in PCSO numbers. “They have been a vital part of the team that has reduced crime and are much valued by residents,” she said.
“There is a real risk that the link between the police and the public will be damaged.”
Cllr Muir, who represents Hackney Downs, also expressed disappointment, saying: “As far as I understand PCSOs will cease to exist.
“They have frozen recruitment for PCSOs. A lot of PCSOs are trying to become Pcs. The number is declining. I’m sure that over time there will be no PCSOs, just Pcs.
“They will be giving more responsibility to officers who will be spending less time in their ward and more time being sucked into doing back office work such as processing arrests, which can take several hours.”
“Even though there has been a fall in crime in Hackney, I’m sure there will be a rise in the fear of crime. My other worry is that responsiveness of police will fall as they will be less able to respond to residents’ issues.”
A spokesperson from the Met Police said: “We will continue to value the role of PCSO - it provides essential support to our core roles of policing London. By increasing the number of officers however we can put more warranted officers and better trained crime fighters in London’s streets to keep the public safe and take the fight against crime to the criminals.”