Tower Hamlets police chief takes over Hackney in a joint command tied together on a shoestring budget
- Credit: Mike Brooke
The Met’s borough police commander for Tower Hamlets is set to take over neighbouring Hackney area being merged into one command—but with far fewer officers.
Police chief Sue Williams assumes control of the new area from March 19, covering half-a-million population from the Isle of Dogs and Whitechapel as far north as Stamford Hill and Finsbury Park.
The new Central East Basic Command Unit is to cover districts as diverse as Bethnal Green, Dalston, Stepney, Stoke Newington, Poplar, Shoreditch, Clapton and Spitalfields.
But it also has fewer officers with falling police numbers across London, despite warnings fired off to the government today by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets about the East End’s rising crime in the face of cuts to policing budgets.
Hackney’s Borough Commander has revealed the full extent of London’s officer reductions.
“Numbers will fall to 30,000 by April and further by 2021,” Det Chief Supt Simon Laurence reveals in a letter to the Met’s police-and-council partnership. “The Met has already made £600m savings and we now have to make further savings of £325m by 2021.”
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Chief Supt Williams, who took over Tower Hamlets in 2015, takes on overall management of both areas next month, but the full merger only takes effect in September.
The Met has been testing the new command structure in east London since early last year “to learn valuable lessons” and to see if it works.
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“The testing operated under challenges that included the terror attacks in Westminster, London Bridge and Finsbury Park, and the Grenfell Tower fire,” Det Chief Supt Laurence stresses. “Emergency response was challenging, but changes made in August resulted in improvements to response which is now better than before.”
The new unit is also to have larger response teams answering emergency 999 calls. More uniformed officers are to take over investigations to the end of each case they report, reducing the different officers that crime victims have to deal with.
But the police and Mayor of London have also pledged to put two dedicated officers and a support officer in every neighbourhood ward to work with the public on local priorities without being whisked elsewhere.
An increase in officers working with schools, colleges, youth clubs and care homes is also promised under the new Central East command unit, with resources being assured for domestic, sexual and child abuse.
Consultations are to begin with local authorities and health trusts before the new structure comes into place in September “to meet our local requirements”.