Cuts to Hackney’s Safer Neighbourhoods police teams under fire

Proposals to cut the number of police patrolling the streets in parts of Hackney have sparked concerns about the future of crime fighting in the borough.

Five sergeants from the borough’s Safer Neighbourhoods (SN) teams will go later this year. And while each ward will keep two allocated police constables and three PCSOs, they will work in other wards during busy times, under plans to be considered by the Metropolitan Police Authority yesterday.

This could leave SN teams with just one Pc and one PCSO.

Cllr Alan Laing, who represents Hackney Central ward, said the changes were being brought in to plug the gap left by the coalition government’s cuts.

“Not only will the number of officers in total be reduced, but the reduction will be at the most experienced level – sergeants – who are critical in guiding operations, tasking resources and helping to drive through performance.

“Also, by removing the resources that are dedicated to ward policing, the highly visible local policing and the ability to meet the demands of local residents and priorities, will be dramatically reduced.”

A police spokesman said boroughs that had larger SN teams with six PCSOs would keep them.

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But sergeants would look after more than one team and officers would take on extra responsibilities alongside priorities chosen by their communities.

Ch Supt Steve Bending, Hackney’s top cop, said: “As borough commander for Hackney I will retain operational control of my SN teams and ensure they are being used in the right way to work with local people to help keep communities safe.

“I’m pleased to reaffirm the Met’s strong commitment to community policing.”