London Mayor faces calls to reverse merger of Police Commander posts

Sadiq Khan’s announcement of the merger of Police Commander posts in Merton, Wandsworth, Richmond and Kingston has been met with criticism.

As part of cost-saving exercises, the Mayor announced last year that he wanted to reduce the number of divisional police commanders in the capital.

This has led to concerns over the ability of chief superintendents to stay on top of local issues and concerns.

Wandsworth’s community safety spokesman Jonathan Cook said: “We are urging the Mayor to pause and reconsider these proposals.

“This proposed new management structure will make senior officers more distant, less accountable to the communities they serve and less able to concentrate on important issues.”

Most commanders across London will now be spread across two boroughs, but in Wandsworth this officer will be shared with three others – Merton, Kingston and Richmond.

Plans were initially presented to council leaders stating which boroughs will be merged together, however, following a pushback, further discussions were made to decide the most suitable partnerships.

Boroughs that have similar issues and crime rates will be merged, meaning commander officers will not be so heavily focused on one borough at the expense of others.

Leader of Merton Borough Council Stephen Alambritis remains cautiously welcoming of the merger. He said: “Obviously we’d rather have our own borough commander, but we appreciate the current pressures on the Met Police.

“We’re the third safest borough in London and we want to keep it that way. A merger can have its benefits.

“We’ve invested quite a bit in our CCTV that will help our police. It makes more sense to have one bank of CCTV for four boroughs rather than four separate banks.

“I think it pushes into sharing services quite well.”

Merton hosts the Wimbledon tennis tournament once a year, as the population of the borough more than doubles from 200,000 to 500,000.

During these events, resources will be shared across London to maintain people’s safety.

Resources will continue to be stretched for the Met Police and increased planning between the boroughs is needed to overcome this.

Plans are due to be implemented in April this year.

Mr Cook added: “It is not too late for the Mayor to reflect carefully before pressing ahead with this plan to spread local police commanders so thinly on the ground.”

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