Police chiefs defend Wanstead and Woodford station closure proposals at consultation meeting
13:28 12 February 2013
Police chiefs gathered in Ilford yesterday evening to address concerns over the possible closure Wanstead and Woodford police stations.
Residents and councillors grilled a panel including Boris Johnson’s crime chief Stephen Greenhalgh, Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Simon Byrne and Redbridge borough commander Sue Williams at Redbridge Town Hall, in High Road.
Under proposals drawn up by the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC) the two stations would be closed to help save £500million.
But the number of police officers in Redbridge would go up from 444 in October 2011 to 530 in 2015 - including 68 more safer neighbourhood officers.
The panel is visiting every London borough to consult over the plans.
Close Wanstead and Woodford police stations
Barkingside opening hours reduced
Ilford Police Station would stay 24-hour
New “public access points” in public buildings where people can report crime
86 more police officers in Redbridge
Minimum one PC and one PCSO for each ward SNT and the rest mobile
Fewer “supervisors” e.g. sergeants and senior managers
More “bobbies on the beat”
Deputy mayor of London Mr Greenhalgh said he was “genuinely listening” to residents.
But for some, the consultation came too late in the day for a strategy due to be published in April.
Cllr Chris Cummins said: “Given the meeting is only an hour, I don’t see what they can achieve.
“It’s just an exercise so they can say they’ve been round and listened.”
Many people were concerned about crime victims having to report crimes at “public access points”.
Resident Gerry Gable, of the police Independent Advisory Group, said: “It’s hard enough for anyone suffering from sexual or domestic abuse to talk to someone at the front desk, let alone in the supermarket or library.”
But Mr Greenlagh insisted victims would not “have to report crime while they get some veg in the supermarket”.
He and Mr Byrne argued that the old model of “Victorian front counters” was in need of reform.
Mr Byrne said: “Why come into a tired old police station when we can come and see you in the comfort of your own home or work or anywhere else?”
Figures recorded in 2010 showed 10 people visited the front counter at Wanstead, 16 at Woodford and 40 at Ilford.
But Cllr Sue Nolan said the figures were lower because Wanstead and Woodford “are never open”.
She said the closure of stations would cause “a field day for criminals”.
Mrs Williams said she was “working extremely hard” to keep Wanstead or Woodford station open or find an “alternative” base.
She added: “As lovely as it is, Wanstead police station is a big old building, with big running costs.
“I’m still looking for something and I’m in touch with the council’s property services.”