Police counter closures in Croydon 'a betrayal'
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has "betrayed" Croydon with plans to close five of the borough's public police desks, opponents said today.
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council's Labour group, described proposals to axe counters at Purley, Kenley, Addington, Norbury and South Norwood as "utterly indefensible".
The plans, made public in the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime's (MOPAC) estates strategy today, would leave Croydon Police's Park Lane headquarters as the only remaining front desk.
The plan is to replace the police front counters with temporary counters in public places for short periods each week.
MOPAC said Croydon would see more police on the street, with 117 extra officers by 2015.
Mr Newman, who called for cross-party opposition to the closures, said: "After the awful events of the riots here in 2011 crime and the fear of crime are a paramount.
"The judge-led inquiry into the Croydon riots, the outcome of which was supported by all politicians in Croydon, recommended that there should be more not less police stations in Croydon.
"These proposals are going to see the public left without any of the reassurance that police stations bring."
He added: "This is the second time in a month that the Mayor of London Boris Johnson has betrayed Croydon, because we had the promise that we would get the tram extension to Crystal Palace. That was then torn up.
"We had constant denials that there were any plans to close down any police stations in Croydon - now it turns out all but one is planned for closure."
"They would be outrageous anywhere, but in light of the awful riots that this town suffered in 2011 they are utterly indefensible."
But Croydon's London Assembly member said police desks were "chronically underused" and said the public cared more about police numbers than buildings.
Councillor Steve O'Connell said: "We've got record numbers of officers, we're increasing our establishment to 740 - an extra 117 cops on the front line - if that's not good news then it beats me what is.
"Croydon deserved bigger police numbers and that is going to give us a thicker front line."
He added: "Many of our front counters are chronically underused. People just aren't using them and increasingly in this day and age people are reporting crimes in different ways.
"Keeping officers behind desks is not good use of the officers and ultimately people would like to see cops rather than buildings.
Council leader Mike Fisher said: "We warmly welcome these new plans, which will give Croydon the second highest increase in police officers in the capital and a fairer share of London’s police resources, more in keeping with our size and unique position.
"It is also extremely encouraging to see that bobbies will be moved out from behind their desks and back patrolling the streets."
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Putting more officers on the streets is key to driving down crime and boosting public confidence in the police and that is why it is at the heart of our plans for policing in the capital.
"In the current economic climate there is no denying that tough decisions will have to be made but policing in the capital is changing and we must change with it by creating a police force that is ready to tackle the issues that matter most to Londoners.”
The plans will now go to public consultation for eight weeks.
There will be a public meeting at Croydon Conference on Tuesday, February 12, for residents to discuss them.