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Police contact points must be more than "officers sitting in supermarkets"

Labour’s London Assembly Policing Spokesperson Joanne McCartney AM has called for the Mayor of London to take immediate action to make the Met’s police contact points “fit for purpose” after further concerns were raised about the visibility and effectiveness of Boris Johnson’s police station replacements.

The move comes after a national newspaper reported that the contact point in a health foods store in Muswell Hill, replacing the local police station which was closed in 2013, saw no offenses reported to them last week and raised concerns about the ability of officers to undertake confidential discussions with victims of crime in such a public area.

It was previously reported that an internal Met review found each contact point was used by an average of just 1.3 people each week and “do not appear to offer particularly good value for money”. It also said that the geographic location, the opening times and the ‘look and feel’ of contact points were under question.

Despite the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, promising an “equivalent or better service” when he closed 63 London police stations Ms McCartney described the contact point replacement as “little more than police officers sitting in supermarkets” and said the weekend’s reports were the “latest in a long line of concerns about the usefulness and viability of police contact points.”

A further detailed review of the contact points was promised in July 2014 but to date nothing has been released by the Metropolitan Police. When questioned in July 2014 about the effectiveness of contact points the Mayor dismissed concerns saying “contact points are not being used in quite the way that they perhaps could be, but that perhaps is a fault of lack of publicity or whatever.”   

Writing in the letter to Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Labour’s London Assembly Crime Spokesperson Joanne McCartney AM said:

“When you decided to close 63 police stations across London and replace them with contact points, you promised an ‘equivalent or better’ service for Londoners. Instead what we’ve got is little more than police officers sitting in supermarkets and cafes and the public completely unaware of their existence.

“Whilst I do not rule out contact points potentially having a place in modern policing, there are clear and persistent issues with the way these contact points are operating. Primarily, the lack of adequate publicity and signage, a failure to meet local need and the lack of a private and reassuring space for victims of crime to speak confidentially to officers.

“There are some sensitive crimes people are less likely to want to report over the phone. Unless the public know about these contact points and have the confidence they can discuss their concerns in a private setting, many of these crimes may go unreported.

“We’ve been waiting almost a whole year now for improvements; it’s time Londoners saw action to make contact points fit for purpose.”

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