A short article in the last Journal detailed some of the proposed changes to the set up of the local Safer Neighbourhood Teams, which appeared to make them potentially less accountable to the local Safer Neighbourhood Panel. Subsequent to that, requirements for security at the Olympics affected the team's manpower and this was exacerbated further by the promotion of two of the local PCSOs (police community support officer) to full PCs. Even more concerning we now have the confirmed closure of our local police station.
The future of the East Dulwich Police Station has been in doubt for some time but its demise was finally confirmed during a presentation by the local Borough Commander at the Dulwich Community Council on September 18th. Other than the small College Ward SNT (safer neighbourhood team) outpost on the Kingswood Estate there will no longer be a 'front desk' police station in any of the three Dulwich wards by the end of this year, the nearest will be in Camberwell.
Does this matter? You can report crime on line, the new 101 telephone reporting system appears to be working well, the safer neighbourhood team should be back to full strength in November, and should we be concerned?
The answer for the residents of some roads in the area is definitely yes. In the western part of Village Ward there has been a worrying increase in crime including muggings, burglary, and vandalism to property. In addition, the level of illegal activity in the Norwood Road area fronting Brockwell Park remains unacceptable despite the introduction of CCTV and increased cross border liaison between Southwark and Lambeth police.
The Mayor is on record as saying that front line policing will not be affected by budget cuts and the BBC has reported Bernard Hogan Howe, head of the Met Police, as confirming that there will be no closures without consultation. There has been no consultation and there have been police station closures and the new SNT regime will affect front line policing. With the best will in the world a base in Camberwell rather than Dulwich will mean that the actual deployment of officers will be less flexible and for some people, particularly the elderly, crime reporting will be more difficult - Camberwell is one of the least accessible places by public transport from both Village and College Wards.
The Safer Neighbourhood Panel has joined with local amenity societies and residents' associations to campaign for a police station to remain in Dulwich. They have lobbied the police, our MP and our members of the London Assembly. There has been a reasoned response from the Met Police and firm support from Tessa Jowell, Val Shawcross and Caroline Pidgeon.
There is also a good alternative location to accommodate a police presence in the area - the East Dulwich Hospital gatehouse and site.. The police and the Mayor's office should think again.