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Brent’s Policing Consultation- Make Believe Plans of MOPAC

I attended the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) Public Consultation at the ‘Sattavis  Patidar Centre’ in Brent on Thursday 10th January 2013.


Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh hosted the meeting, accompanied by Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne to consult on the new policing model for London and its implications on Brent. The meeting was chaired by Cllr Muhammed Butt – Leader of Brent Council and the panel included Brent’s Borough Commander Matthew Gardner.

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There was a packed audience of well over 100 residents and lobby groups that attended the consultation to hear how the changes to policing would affect Brent. Many of those that attended appeared far from impressed with the new model on the table involving a new structure for mainly smaller Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT), closure of Willesden and Harlesden Police Stations and loss of front counters. The wide ranging questions and comments focused on MOPAC’s claim about the police numbers going up, when MOPAC’s own evidence suggest that the numbers had fallen dramatically from 2010. The new SNT model was condemned as ‘reactive’ (with 1 PC, 1 PCO per ward and a Sergeant shared between unknown numbers of Wards) rather the current ‘proactive’ SNTs (comprising dedicated Ward team of six including a Sergeant). The residents could not see any logic in dismantling the current model which was described as successful in tackling anti social behaviour, reducing fear of crime and better relations almost on ‘first name basis with local communities. There was no enthusiasm from members of the audience for the closure of front counters and closing of police stations in Harlesden and Willesden.


The consultation was described by one resident as a complete waste of time and accused the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh and the Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne Deputy Mayor of not listening to the public.


I challenged the notion of more police when the MOPAC’s own figures showed drastic reduction in police numbers in Brent, asked whether there would be alternative new and equitable front counters provided before the police stations were closed and asked about the future of the Mayor’s ‘Safer neighbourhood Boards.


I’m totally opposed to these make believe plans of MOPAC. Residents of Brent don’t appear to like these new proposals for the new policing model proposed for Brent and many individuals stated to Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh that he was not listening to the community and stated that the meeting was a complete waste of time. The proposed policing model presents nothing more than a make believe scenario and the MOPAC’s figures do not add up.


The MOPAC figures from May 2010 –November 2012 show that Brent is now short of 78 Police Officers and 65 PCSOs. I heard the outcry from residents that live in areas like Northwick Park and Harlesden that SNTs are seriously depleted. The rhetoric from the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh and is that he wants to see more officers rooted in the community and reconnect with public but he is replacing the current much larger and successful teams with smaller SNTs with the loss of dedicated Sergeants in Wards. I’m firmly against the closure of police stations as I see police stations as a community hubs providing vital access to local police.


Closing a police station in a hugely deprived area like Harlesden is senseless. These closures are nothing but asset stripping and an act of vandalism which will hurt local and deprive communities even further. The Mayor has stated that new alternative front counter in the immediate locality with better facilities will be provided before closing police stations but I did not get any such assurance for Brent from the Deputy Mayor and the Police.


These proposals are short-sighted and will fundamentally undermine the ability of local police service to keep us safe. I’m seriously concerned about the increase in crime in Brent as a result of the draft proposals. Enough is enough and I urge local residents to oppose the plans and respond by 6th March.
 

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11th January 2013