Julia Lopez MP has written to Mayor Sadiq Khan and Met Commissioner, Cressida Dick, asking them not to neglect policing needs in London’s outer boroughs.
The Hornchurch and Upminster MP has pushed the Mayor for assurances on the future of Hornchurch Police Station and raised concern about the frequency with which Havering’s neighbourhood officers are having to police events and protests in Central London. She also probed whether the borough will be getting the same policing resource as other areas after Havering failed to feature on a list of nineteen boroughs that stand to receive new town centre squads.
The MP worked with residents and councillors to fight the planned closure of Hornchurch Police Station back in 2017. Officers have since remained on site, with the station now used by the Havering Joint Task Force under the Met’s Partnership Plus scheme to great effect. In its first year of operation, the Joint Task Force arrested over 200 people for crimes including residential burglary, drug supply, robbery and possession of weapons, while seizing over £1.8m of stolen vehicles. It has also assisted Met and Essex Police cross-border initiatives, such as Op Gambler that targets gang members, robbers, burglars and drug dealers. But questions remain about the Mayor’s commitment to the station’s long-term future.
Mrs Lopez said:
“Officers based at Hornchurch Police Station are clearly being very effective in their roles, aided in no small part by the central location of the station within the borough. Given this success, I am keen to hear the Mayor’s plans for the future of the site so that we can make sure there is the geographical policing coverage that this part of outer London and Essex requires, particularly as new homes are added to the area.”
The MP also raised concerns about the level of abstraction of Havering’s neighbourhood officers to deal with the policing of central London. “I recognise that protests and other events require a significant level of resource to which all boroughs must contribute”, she wrote, “However, I am concerned at the regularity with which this necessitates the abstraction of neighbourhood police officers from outer London boroughs like Havering. This can have a significant impact on the ability of local officers to tackle local issues, follow-up on local crime reports and to plan effective operations.”
Questions were also raised about changes to town centre policing teams after Havering failed to feature on a list of nineteen town centres which will benefit from new squads. Instead, there will be only two additional PCs in the Romford Town and Brooklands ward teams – neither of which sit in the Hornchurch & Upminster constituency.
With the pandemic changing the policing dynamics of London, with fewer visitors and commuters centrally, the Hornchurch & Upminster representative has called on the Mayor and Met Commissioner to review the resourcing of outer-London boroughs to reflect the new crime and policing demands that they face.
Hornchurch and Upminster’s MP, Julia Lopez, said ‘Policing has always been a key concern of constituents and, sadly, a number of violent offences in recent years have shown that Havering is not immune from the kinds of incidents that not only have a tragic impact on families but cause fear in the wider community about crime. I hope the Mayor will be able to provide me assurances on the future of Hornchurch Police Station, abstractions and the policing of our local town centres as these are the concerns that have been on the minds of both residents and beat officers.”