Police station front counter set for axe amidst Mayor’s cost-saving measures

Streatham Police Station’s front counter will close just two years after a £500,000 restoration.

The counter, opened in February 2015 after the main Shrubbery Road station closed, will shut to the public on December 14, remaining open for officers until the lease runs out in 2024.

Despite the money invested and multiple recent burglaries in the area, the station fell victim to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s plans to shut 37 front counters across London to cut costs.

These proposals came under fire, especially after attacks on Westminster and London Bridge, but Streatham Wells councillor Mohammed Seedat points out the difficult position Mr Khan finds himself in.

He said: “The government cannot expect the Mayor to muster up and subsidise – in effect – the police.

“That’s the role of the government, their one primary role is to make sure as residents that we feel safe.

“The Tories are completely ignoring the issue of security and safety and absolving themselves of their duty of government.”

Streatham saw 89 burglaries reported over the period July-September 2017, up from 69 in the same period in 2016.

In light of this spike, Mr Seedat, who is also Labour’s cabinet member for Healthier and Stronger Communities, worries about the impact on citizens’ ability to report crime.

Mr Seedat said: “For residents who have to report any particular crime, to go up to Brixton from the southern part of Streatham is easily a 45-minute journey if not an hour.

“Often if you are having to report to the police stations it’s because you are a victim of crime and you will be in a vulnerable state.

“Sadly that is the world we live in at the minute with repeated attacks on public service.”

Mr Seedat noted that the police’s ability to communicate with citizens would deteriorate after the closure, something the council are particularly wary of.

He said: “We are fearful of the impact on neighbourhood policing, especially in Lambeth where community relations have taken a substantial number of years to build up.

“That’s the real fear here. We can mitigate against the closure of stations, we prefer not to see stations close at all but any impact on neighbourhood policing I think would be the wrong message to send.”

The closure comes amidst widespread funding cuts across London, with the Mayor’s plans part of a wider £400m cost-saving scheme.

The 37 closures make up just over half of the city’s 73 front counters, a figure already down from 136 in 2013 and will result in just one 24-hour counter per borough.

Alongside Streatham, Kennington’s front counter will also be closed in Lambeth, with seven further closures across south west London, including at both Wandsworth and Wimbledon.

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