‘Police shake-up putting public at risk as Met fails to meet its own targets’

Darren Rodwell

Darren Rodwell - Credit: Archant

A major shake-up to policing in the borough is putting the public at risk, the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council has claimed.

In a letter to mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Cllr Darren Rodwell said the Metropolitan Police’s Basic Command Unit (BCU) scheme is struggling to deliver effective policing.

Cllr Rodwell wrote: “Residents need reassurance in the form of a visible police presence and I am unconvinced that the BCU will be able to deliver this as it currently stands.”

He added: “Three months on it is apparent we are nowhere near providing the service we need to keep our residents safe.”

The Met announced the initiative at the end of last year as part of a move from borough-based policing to larger BCUs.

Under the scheme, which launched in April, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering boroughs merged to form the East Area BCU, while Islington and Camden formed Central North BCU.

The trial aims to distribute police resources evenly by sharing staff, buildings, technology and vehicles across boroughs, something Cllr Rodwell said he “hoped would boost police officer numbers” but was not achieved.

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“It is evident that Barking and Dagenham is under resourced and our BCU is unable to provide proactive and visible policing at this moment in time,” he said.

He added: “The most recent figures I have seen for police response times show just 52 per cent of emergency calls in our borough are being responded to within the Met’s own target time – the worst in London. This is shocking.”

Barking and Dagenham has experienced the third sharpest cuts in police numbers in London over the last two years, with police numbers falling by 15pc.

Wandsworth and Bromley have suffered worse cuts in frontline services but, according to Cllr Rodwell, neither faces the type of crime that can “only be countered with more proactive and visible community policing”.

Further in the letter, he said he was “totally opposed” to any plans to close police stations in the borough.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman referred the Post to the Mayor’s Office, who did not respond to requests for comment.