Police’s ‘abstraction’ policy taking hundreds of officer shifts out of Redbridge

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:45 29 February 2016

A pupil was stabbed in the leg last Thursday

A pupil was stabbed in the leg last Thursday

PA/Press Association Images

Borough Police are losing almost 300 officer shifts a month as the Metropolitan Police’s “abstraction” policy drafts them off their beat to help with public order operations across the capital.

Last summer, The Recorder revealed Redbridge police had been forced to operate “at minimum capacity” while officers worked the Queen’s birthday celebrations in London, and it seems the practice has become routine.

Statistics reveal that in the first nine months of 2015, the latest period for which data is available, the borough was losing an average of 288 shifts each month as officers were drafted elsewhere.

Many of the drafted officers helped provide security for parades, football matches and other high profile public events across London.

Neighbourhood Watch Chairman Mark Glazer was unaware of the figure, but not overly concerned by the practice.

He said: “I fully understand the need for the police to draw on general resources when needed, and I think it would be wrong of us to complain about that.

“If there was a public order disturbance here in Redbridge we would expect support from elsewhere, so I don’t think it’s fair for us to object.”

However, London Assembly member Tom Copley was highly critical of the abstraction policy, arguing it undermined the principle of neighbourhood policing.

He said: “Londoners want neighbourhood police to be visible in their communities, not pulled off the beat to plug gaps in other parts of London.”

Commander BJ Harrington of the Met’s Specialist Crime & Operations branch, responsible for policing London’s public events, refuted Mr Copley’s comments, and argued that the abstraction policy was the most cost effective way of policing the capital.

He said: “Our officers provide an essential policing response in the most efficient way possible – by using police drawn largely from across London’s boroughs we do not need to hold a large reserve of officers waiting for operations to happen.

“It is inaccurate to say that they are ‘plugging gaps’; they are supporting local boroughs and neighbourhoods with a specific policing response.”

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