All police stations in Croydon other than main base in Park Lane set to close
ALL police stations in Croydon other than the central base in Park Lane have been earmarked for closure, a report published today has revealed.
Stations in Purley, Kenley, Addington, Norbury and South Norwood will be replaced by police contact points in locations such as supermarkets and post offices.
The plans are part of closures across London in an effort to meet a £500m cut to the police budget.
A borough of 363,000 will be served by just one police station, a year and a half after rioting left 28 buildings set on alight, 252 businesses damaged and 100 families made homeless.
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An independent report following the disorder recommended opening two new police bases in New Addington and London Road in order to help prevent the disorder from happening again.
Tony Newman, Croydon's Labour leader, branded the proposals, announced today by the Mayor of London, as "utterly shocking" and called on a cross-party campaign to oppose the closures.
He said: "Taken in the context of the riots and the anxiety about crime in Croydon, both the fear of crime and the reality, these proposals are truly shocking.
"I call on Croydon's Conservative councillors to stand shoulder by shoulder with us, particularly Steve O'Connell, our representative on the London Assembly. This has to be opposed."
The Tory's accused Cllr Newman of arguing for "fewer cops and more police stations".
Responding to his criticism on Twitter, Croiydon Central MP Gavin Barwell said: "Tough decisions have to be made. Do you really think buildings are more important than cops on the street?"
Up until the publication of today's draft police estates strategy by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) it was thought that only South Norwood was under threat of closure.
That plan was opposed by Labour and was a key issue during the Croydon North by-election, though there has not been widespread public opposition.
The announcement came at the same time as the Mayor's Police & Crime Plan was released, which details how Croydon will receive additional police officers.
The borough will be allocated an extra 117 officers, the second highest figure in London, with numbers rising from 623 in 2011 to 740 in 2015.
The number of officers based in Croydon's safer neighbourhood teams will increase from 73 to 183 as part of a new emphasis on local policing.
Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said the Mayor had recognised Croydon's need for additional resources.
However, figures show that increasing the number to 740 will only match the levels seen in March 2010, a month after the council launched a high profile campaign criticising the borough's allocation and calling for more manpower.
Cllr Hoar said the public would be less concerned by station closures and more about "boots on the ground".
He said: "I would rather see more police on the streets rather than worrying about what station they are based in. What matters to people is not the stations but where police are patrolling."
Mr Newman replied: "The fact that this supposed increase in police officers will in fact see us return to frankly insufficient levels they were at before the riots goes to show these figures are being spun."
When questions were raised about the future of Kenley's police station last February, ward councillor Steve O'Connell told the Advertiser: "I am absolutely committed to making sure Kenley Police Station stays open. I will do everything in my power to make sure that it stays."
Less than a year later the London Assembly member for Croydon and Sutton has changed his tune dramatically.
He said: "What the public wants is more constables out on the streets and longer hours for SNTs. They're not particularly bothered about buildings. They want to see the front line protected and, in this case, bulked up.
"We want to revolutionise the way people interact with the police. Maybe ten years ago people reported crime at stations. Now they call or do it online.
"What I'm excited about are plans to use post offices and public libraries as contact points. That's where the big footfall is."
Kenley, Addington and Norbury are all day time only stations. South Norwood is used 24 hours a day and Purley, in Whytecliffe Road, is operated by volunteers.
Plans to close the stations will now go out to public consultation for eight weeks.
- Croydon residents will be able to have their say at a public meeting on February 12 between 8pm and 9pm at Croydon Conference Centre, in Surrey Street. It will be hosted by Stephen Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing and crime, and Simon Byrne, assistant commissioner for the Met.