Richmond residents critical of Boris Johnson’s plans to overhaul London’s police stations


One of the proposed ideas is for some stations to be replaced with counters placed in supermarkets and cafes.

By Alex Christian and Cyrus Engineer

Mayor Boris Johnson’s controversial plans to radically overhaul London’s police stations are being met with scepticism from Richmond residents.

One of the proposed ideas is for some stations to be replaced with counters placed in supermarkets and cafes to provide a more convenient and accessible service.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) budget, which was released this week, included £91m saved in police property, further fuelling fears of police station closures.

Richmond resident Robert Johns said: “What would worry me is that the government would, in fact, reduce the service to save money.”

The issue of cuts to the Metropolitan Police was hotly debated in Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall on Wednesday.

Boris Johnson argued that the new proposals will not in any way affect police service and vowed to try and keep police numbers at or around 32,000 officers.

“We are making sure that we continue to provide the unparalleled service that London offers its citizens,” he said.

“No police front counter will be closed unless we can provide the people with equivalent access to the police.”

One in four rapes are reported in person at a police station and when asked by London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon whether people would be reluctant to report serious crimes at these new counter services, the mayor reiterated his belief in the plan.

He said: “What people will want is accessibility and they also want to see police out there on the streets.

“It is crucial that there is 24-hour cover and that is something which we are going to have to ensure in every borough in London.”

Despite the Mayor’s defence of the proposals, some in Richmond, whose police stations are among those under threat of closure, are less than convinced.

Resident Eyas Hazeh said: “The plan is ridiculous.”

Amy Forrest, who only recently moved to the area, also voiced her opposition to the proposals.

She said: “Richmond needs a police station desperately.”

Boris Johnson argues that by downsizing the numbers of police stations more officers will be able to patrol the streets.

Mr Johns is concerned that by placing front counters in cafes and supermarkets people’s options are restricted when these shops close.

Mr Johns said: “If it’s a 24-hour service then it is fair enough, but what happens when they close?

“I would prefer to go to a police station but that is just because I am used to them.”

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