Met confirms tri-borough merger

Police services are to be spread out over several neighbouring boroughs in a bid to cut costs.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that services in Harrow will merge with those in Barnet in Brent as the force looks to make savings wherever possible.

Working as the North West Basic Command Unit (BCU), it will be headed up by former Barnet Borough Commander Simon Rose.

Deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons, who is overseeing the transition across the capital, said: “Local policing is at the heart of what the Met does every day, and we will improve it further by offering a service that is more personal and responsive to the needs of Londoners.

“BCUs will allow us to put first victims of crime and those people who need us the most.

“Our new structure will also give us the resilience and consistency we need across the whole of London, so we can continue to respond to large scale incidents and meet the financial and operational challenges we are facing.”

It is anticipated that the changes will be rolled out over the next 12 months, with the North West BCU set to go live in September.

The proposals were met with criticism by residents across Harrow who fear that they will suffer as resources are stretched.

Caren Duhig, who founded the community group #Fixit Harrow Network, explained how several members had spoken of the risks associated with the new system.

She said: “We feel vulnerable that we will no longer have a single command unit and that we will have to share the services across boroughs which need more support.

“We need to maintain our services in Harrow to provide security to the residents who will not feel as safe with fewer police on the streets.

“We do have crime; serious crimes like stabbings and burglaries. Things are reported on a weekly basis and that would show that this is the last thing we need.”

Ms Duhig launched a campaign to block the decision and said she will “continue to gather support” through her petition to Sadiq Khan.

Sachin Shah, leader of Harrow Council, has lent his backing to the movement and contacted the Deputy Mayor of Policing, Sophie Linden, to voice his concerns.

He suggested that the move be put on hold “until we are certain that the Metropolitan Police will have the capacity and structure required in order to keep Harrow safe”.

He added that, while he empathises with the police at having to cope with government cuts, it is important that key services are maintained.

“We still have not seen the outcome of the pilot mergers that have taken place in Camden and Islington, and in Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering,” he said.

“I was especially concerned with the early outcomes of the outer London merger, which saw response times fall to the lowest in London. This is not a risk, I, as leader of Harrow Council, can accept for my borough.”

The Met explained that it has no choice but to “prepare for a future with less” as it is forced to make savings of £325 million by 2020/21. It also anticipates that police numbers will fall to just 30,000 by April and this will drop further by 2021.

As such, it believes this move will be the best way to meet the challenges ahead, particularly with reference to safeguarding and terrorism.

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