Some interesting information for Chessington residents……
METROPOLITAN POLICE PRESENTATION BY CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT SALLY BENATOR
AT THE SOUTH OF THE BOROUGH NEIGHBOURHOOD COMMITTEE MEETING ON THE 24TH
This is a transcription of the notes taken by the Chessington at the Chessington District Residents’ Association. A full recording of the meeting is available on the RBK website.
As we have reported in recent months, each of the 32 London boroughs’
have until now been individual Police Command Units. They are now being
combined into 12 Combined Borough Command Units (CBCU). Our Borough
Commander gave us an update on the progress of the change.
The final decision of which boroughs will comprise our CBCU are
Wandsworth, Richmond, Merton and Kingston.
Each ward in all of the boroughs will have a Safer Neighbourhood team
comprising two Police Constables and one PCSO. These officers will work
wholly in their wards unless called away to deal with extreme
situations. They are termed Dedicated Police Constables (‘DPC’s).
They will primarily work on neighbourhood issues, keeping in close touch
with the community. For example, our officers and Police Cadets already
undertake a great deal of work with our local schools to deter young
people from crime.
They will be strongly supported by Response Teams who will travel in
police cars and respond to 999 and 101 telephone calls, or work on
pre-planned police initiatives. These teams will conduct the initial
investigation of incidents and hand over subsequent investigation to
specialist officers, such as the CID when necessary.
The Senior Management team are very conscious of the need to provide a
high standard of response and have an expert on response policing as a
member of the Senior Management Team.
The headquarters of the new CBCU will be in Kingston, where the senior
command team will be based. There will be three main Police stations in
the CBCU where the officers will ‘parade’, but I was not able to
fully understand where these will be. However, it was said that the
Police officers working in Kingston will parade at Twickenham, though
this does not seem right. Perhaps the officers meant that the response
teams are to be based in Twickenham. The new structure will have more
response teams working across Kingston. An objective will be to have
fewer senior officers but those officers will have more responsibility.
This structure has been operationally trialled in Dagenham and
Islington. It is expected that the CBCU will become operational in
Kingston on the 23rd of May.
Across London the Metropolitan Police is leaving many of it s current
buildings and locations. Whereas there are currently approximately 470
in use these will be reduced to around 100. A MOPAC strategy document
on property has been published. At the moment in Kingston only two
locations have been confirmed. They are the YMCA in Victoria Road,
Surbiton and the central Kingston Police station. It is unlikely that
there will be any property sold or leases surrendered in the near
future. There is a two year timescale for this work to be completed.
Our Borough Commander has been working on ‘transformation’ duties
relating to the ONE MET plans before moving to Kingston. Unfortunately,
she has to take some sick leave in the near future, and another officer
will take her place during her absence. Penny Mills will be in charge
of Neighbourhood Policing.
There were resident’s questions.
Q – The resident was concerned about call handling and timescales. At
the moment Safer Neighbourhood teams undertake basic crime investigation
for incidents in their area. This work will in future be undertaken by
the response teams. The resident was concerned that the timescale could
be detrimentally extended, in part due to the problems of traffic
density in our area delaying the arrival of the police.
A -The Chief Superintendent replied that the Met have done a lot of
modelling and designed a fully integrated and very effective Command and
Control system. The custody facility will be maintained at the Kingston
Police station. At the moment once a crime is initially investigated
and the facts of what has happened ascertained, it is often subsequently
passed on for further investigation to other specialist Police officers,
such as CID. In future the response teams will be more capable of
initial investigation before having to call in specialist officers. At
this point she spoke about the radically enhanced online support now
available to the officers. Officers will in future all have ‘tablet’
computers and enhanced software on their mobile phones, and have access
to a wider number of data bases. She is looking forward to officers
gaining greater focussed police experience due to the broader remit.
This will also be of benefit to the neighbourhood police officers who
will be able to more fully concentrate oncrime prevention work.
Q – A Malden Rushett resident spoke about the response officers taking
their breaks at the BP garage or the Chessington Garden Centre. He
fully understood the need and was very pleased that they chose to take
breaks in our areas. However, he was concerned that due to the amount
of electronic equipment in response vehicles the officers were obliged
to leave their vehicles with their engines running during their short
rest periods. This could contribute to the already high levels of
vehicle generated air pollution in this area.Would the Chief
Superintendent please consider making an arrangement with the garage and
garden centre to have electrical charging points made available?
A – The answer was yes; the MET will contact these businesses and
discuss this possibility.
Q – The same Malden Rushett resident commented that in his opinion the
amount of money already cut from the MET budget, with further large cuts
to come, has been and is unacceptable. He commented that in the past we
had come to appreciate the work done by the Safer Neighbourhood teams
and especially the PCSO’s in patrolling our neighbourhoods and their
contribution to crime prevention work. Will we have enough PCSO’s in
A- The Chief Superintendent said that they will in future be reduced in
number to one per ward. She thinks they are essential but commented
that they have no power of arrest. The Commissioner of the MET has made
a commitment to retain PCSO’s. However, at the moment their numbers
have been reduced, in line with the reduction of the number of police
Q – Where do the traffic police fit into the ONE MET plan?
A – A member of our senior management team has experience of traffic
policing. There followed a very detailed explanation of traffic
policing which is partly funded by TfL. They will continue to be based
at Deer Park Road in Merton. They will have their own stream lined
management. They deal with the unique aspects of traffic policing and
spoke about their recent initiative on motorbike crime. The traffic
police are not part of the command structure of the CBCU’s.
Q – Councillor Margaret Thompson expressed her concerns about a number
of issues. It will take a long time for our neighbourhood police to get
from a ‘parading’ location somewhere in the South of the Borough to
patrol areas in our very large wards if the police have no local base.
She also commented that she is concerned about issues of privacy when
having contact with the police if there is no local base available.
A – The second point was replied to first. It is recognised but it is
also thought that there are now enhanced online or telephone facilities
for talking to the police which in part compensate. However ,the police
will in future always maintain interview rooms for private meetings,
presumably at the police ‘hubs’.
Concerning the location of police ‘hubs’ to patrol areas. The
police have a commitment to find bases that are local to patrol areas.
In the recent past this has been said to be within a twenty minute walk
of patrol areas. Our councillors and residents’ associations have
said this is probably not possible in the large South of the Borough
wards. In response to this question the Chief Superintendent said that
if a ‘hub’location is found a minimum of 25% of ward patrol areas
have to be within a mile of the ‘hub’. No comment.
Margaret said that Safer Neighbourhood officers need a location in which
to ‘parade’ and also to rest and have their meal breaks. The Chief
Superintendent replied that she understands the Hook Parade is a good
location. The officers will only move if a better location is found.
The pressure to leave the Hook Parade is primarily financial, it is
expensive to rent. She said the business of finding new ‘hub’
locations will be “one of the most challenging parts of her future
work”. The Neighbourhood Policing Inspector said that she is looking
for local ‘hubs’ which can provide a double benefit, for example in
a school or university. The police officers indicated that the
financial resources to provide police posts are extremely limited and
locations that are either free of charge or have a minimal cost will be
given the highest priority. ‘There will be no overnight decisions’.
However, Sergeant Baxter has already spoken to CCC about the possibility
of moving there.