Acting borough commander, Superintendent Rob Atkin reassures Croydon residents over proposed front counter closures
Croydon's police chief has moved to allay fears that the closure of police station counters would lead to a less visible police force in Croydon.
When asked if given a choice between keeping front counters and building or having more police on the ground, Superintendent Rob Atkin said he would take more police every time.
He cited the low footfall figures at front counters such as Kenley which has 0.3 crimes reported there per day, as an example of why officers would be better placed elsewhere in the community.
He said: "A lot of the people I have spoken to haven’t visited a police station for some time. There is a symbolic element of having it in your community but we have to move with times now." he said.
"Having a growth in officers is great and I have no doubt that we will be more visible on the streets.
"If we can get the public contact points right and people know where their cops are, then I think there can be even more engagement with the public.
One of the ideas to replace front counters is to set up contact points. These will be in leisure centres, libraries, post offices and supermarkets.
Officers will be at one of these locations at specific times each week with the aim being to engage with members of the public.
There is potential to open a counter at the new custody centre in Windmill Road, Selhurst, which could run from 9am to 9pm.
Supt Atkin added: "Having extra officers is a good news story for us as it will help with the demands of the borough. It is one of the busiest in London."
He said it was important to separate the issue of front counter closure and buildings getting sold.
He added: "The buildings aren’t owned or controlled by me. It is done by MOPAC. There is a process to it and it has to be challenged and scrutinised.
"What we are seeing now is people’s habits are changing in how they contact the police. In London we are seeing 12,000 fewer front counter visits.
"We looked at the average total for our counters and the bigger hitters were Croydon and South Norwood.
"I understand that a station reassures people but a frustration I have is for every front counter I have to put a load of officers in there to staff them.
"If you have an experienced officer there for eight hours and two people come in during that time I would ask the question would you rather that or would you rather him on the beat talking to many more people?"