Below is an exchange of correspondence we have had with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police regarding the proposed closure of East Dulwich police station in Lordship lane.
Dear Susan Badman,
Thank you for your email dated 01 October 2012, in which you express concerns about the future of East Dulwich Police Station.
I recognise that there are a number of matters of great concern to Londoners and the confidence of the public in the MPS is dependent on the way we address those concerns.
Before addressing your specific points about East Dulwich Police Station, I thought it would be helpful to explain the context in which the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is examining potential changes to the policing of London.
Our approach starts with identifying ways in which we can improve our performance at cutting crime and deliver a higher quality public service to the people of London. At the heart of this will be our commitment to safer neighbourhoods, and a specific promise to strengthen our Safer Neighbourhood Teams with an additional 2,000 police officers. The provision of appropriate bases is vital to ensure we are able to respond to local demand, and we are clear that our current ward structure and borough partnerships will continue to be the foundation of neighbourhood policing.
We are also committing further resources to dealing with incidents to make London safer, with an additional 500 officers into the teams that respond to 999 calls. We believe that the provision of extra officers to our neighbourhood and response teams will be welcomed by Londoners, and it should therefore be central to our thinking around any potential changes.
In addition to this commitment, we have been reviewing the ways in which the public can access our services. This has changed considerably in recent years, with the introduction of a standard 101 non-emergency number; internet access; the opportunity to make diary appointments to see officers; and the commitment we have made that every victim of crime should be able to see an officer if they wish. We are examining the potential for further provision of ‘drop-in’ surgeries at community venues such as local authority facilities.
This Public Access review will make proposals for enhancing the quality of service provided by the MPS, in response to changing public demand. These proposals could include the permanent closure of East Dulwich Police Station, which has very low numbers of visits by the public. These will only take place when a local Public Access Plan has been signed off by MOPAC. Such closures would allow your Borough Commander to return operational officers to their primary role of emergency response and crime prevention in neighbourhoods.
The financial context in which the MPS is conducting this review requires us to save approximately £500 million pounds from our budget, and so we have to focus on how we can offer the best value to tax-payers at the same time as improving the quality of our service.
My commitment is to increase the numbers of officers working in Safer Neighbourhood teams. The exact numbers in each team will be decided as part of our Public Access review. But we are considering establishing a minimum staffing level for every team and giving local commanders the discretion to increase numbers according to the specific demands of each ward.
Once the MPS has completed its Public Access review, we will submit proposals to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime who will have the final say on the sale of any buildings. This will be undertaken by Christmas 2012 and MOPAC will then assess our proposals. We are clear that no decisions on closure of individual stations will be made until a new plan for Public Access has been approved as MOPAC will want to uphold the Mayor’s pledge that “no front counter will close unless an equivalent or better facility for public access has been identified”.
I can confirm that I had said in my interview with BBC in September that there will be consultation with local people before big changes are made to policing.
I hope that this provides you with the necessary reassurance you were seeking however should you have further concerns I would ask that you direct them to your Borough Commander in the first instance . Alternatively you may wish to address your concerns to Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne, via Simon.Byrne@met.pnn.police.uk, who is leading on work regarding the Met’s local policing model.
Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner – 29 October 2012
From: Sue Badman [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 01 October 2012 11:32
Subject: Closure of police station in the three Dulwich Wards, Southwark
Mr Bernard Hogan-Howe, QPM
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police
Dear Mr Hogan-Howe,
In a recent BBC report you were quoted as saying that the Metropolitan Police Force would consult local people before making big changes in local policing.
However, at a recent meeting of the Dulwich Community Council held on 18th September, the Borough Commander confirmed that East Dulwich Police Station would be closing imminently and that the base office for the Safer Neighbourhood Teams in Village and East Dulwich Wards would be in Camberwell. No mention was made of fate of the small SNT base on the Kingswood Estate in College Ward which we in this area rely upon for the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.
The closure of Dulwich’s only ‘front counter’ police station at East Dulwich is not acceptable without making arrangements for alternative premises. The Camberwell station is about four miles from the most distant part of College Ward; it is not easily accessible by public transport from large parts of Village and College Wards because there are no direct train services and a bus trip would probably require at least one change.
On most days it could take up to 50 minutes to travel by road from Camberwell to Crystal Palace Parade in the far south of the Borough. This will lead to less efficient deployment of the local SNTs, PCs and PCSOs who will have to travel further and will have less time to spend patrolling the wards. Residents in these areas will feel more vulnerable knowing that the response times to attend incidents, or respond to information about suspicious behaviour in the area, are longer.
Mr Hogan-Howe, please will you confirm that you did make the statement quoted by the BBC, confirm that the intention is indeed to close the East Dulwich station, and direct me to the discussions or consultations with local residents that have preceded this decision.
Finally, will you please give me an undertaking that the decision to close the East Dulwich Police Station will be reconsidered, to give an opportunity for local residents to be consulted, and an alternative site to be identified and commissioned.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Chair of Turney Road Residents’ Association