Politicians demand Wimbledon custody suite remains open as police consultation comes to an end

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CONTROVERSIAL: Police station closures

By Emma Birkett

A consultation on police station closures is set to end tomorrow, after weeks of controversy and debate.

The Metropolitan Police and Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) aim to reduce police spending by 20% by selling off or closing the smaller Safer Neighbourhood Team offices, and using the money generated to put additional police on the street.

Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis said that plans would not result in a saving and would be ‘false economy’.

“Metropolitan Police should look to retain all aspects and look for savings elsewhere,” he said.

Councillor Alambritis, who chaired a Police & Crime Consultation meeting at Merton Council Chamber last week, was also concerned at the lack of public awareness on the scheme.

“The meeting was by pre-registration only and was conducted in a too narrow and restrictive way to fully engage the public on the proposals,” he added.

Wimbledon residents were also surprised at the lack of open discussion on the subject of closures.

“The lack of base for the SNT officers is concerning, as well as the possible pressures placed on cell space at the designated 24 hour station,” said Katie Charman, 22, and Paul Causon, 28, from Wimbledon.

Merton Conservative Group’s spokesman for Crime Prevention, Councillor David Simpson, said that savings have to  be made, and this is one way to do it.

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“People would rather see more police on the street than buildings,” he said.

He added that there had been enough time for the consultation.

The two parties were in agreement that the custody suite in Wimbledon Police Station must be guarded against closure.

In an open letter to Mayor of London Boris Johnson, MP for Wimbledon Stephen Hammond, Leader of Merton Conservative Group Councillor Debbie Shears and London Assembly Member Richard Tracey said that the station’s location, only 100 metres from the second largest transport hub in South London, means it is vital it stays open.

At present, officers can walk from the areas with the borough’s highest crime spots to the custody suite, reducing reliance of police vehicles, which is one of the aims of the MOPAC consultation.

“While we fully support the Metropolitan Police’s limited resuirces on manpower and frontline number officer numbers, this must not be to the detriment of efficient policing and the safety of the public, which we believe would be the case if any attempt was made to merge the custody suite at Wimbledon with Sutton or any other borough,” they said.

Photo courtesy of brizzlebornandbred, with thanks.

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