A motion before a Greenwich Council meeting next week from Greenwich Conservatives suggest moving a small number of police officers from Eltham police station into the Eltham Centre should the police station close.
Eltham police station’s front desk closed in 2017 and it now appears all staff could vacate this year. The motion states:
“Following the closure of the front desk of Eltham Police Station in 2017, it was recently announced that police officers would be vacating the station permanently from August 2021.”
It would be the latest police station closure as police budgets saw heavy cuts from Westminster and 20,000 officers lost their jobs nationwide over the past decade, alongside additional back office staff.
Last week I covered how new homes are rising at what was one of the main stations in Greenwich borough:
Last year I looked at the fate of a number of other stations that closed across south east London including Westcombe Park, Woolwich, Sidcup and Belvedere.
When the issue of police cuts comes up a large number of people state it’s unique to London, when 20,000 police officer cuts happened across the country. Now the government state they seek to hire 20,000 more officers, though have made this dependent on extremely large rises in local council tax precepts.
Large local council tax rises are happening nationwide and are not unique to London – and form a key element of Westminster policy to shift funding.
In London it’s a choice of police cuts or large local tax increases as Government refuse to use central Government tax receipts to fund replacement of all officers previously cut.
20,000 new officers across the country will still leave a reduction in officers per head of population, as the countries population has grown over the past 11 years by around five million people. In London the population has risen by over 600,000 people.
Lastly, an apparent rise in serious crime including knife attacks is not unique to London. Knife crime has actually been rising faster outside of London than within the capital.
Kent saw a 152 per cent increase in knife crime from 2010 to 2019, Hertfordshire was up 89 per cent and Essex up 43 per cent.
If we head north it’s a similar story. Knife incidents in the north east rose from 768 incidents in 2010 to 999 by 2018, while police numbers across three forces fell from 7,418 officers to 5,506.
This year local council taxpayers faced a 21.8 per cent council tax precept increase to fund police.
The common thread nationwide is cuts to police funding, the wider criminal justice system including courts (locally in south east London Woolwich and Greenwich both saw closures) alongside youth services.
Almost all cuts across England emanate from Whitehall, but Government hopes people blame local politicians, which as a strategy seems to be working for many.
Guess who got the flack in Northumbria when Westminster policy determined that police were cut, crime then increased and the Government mandated local council tax must be used to restore much lost funding? The local council of course.