Most residents will know that the East Dulwich Police Station has closed and that the site has been sold to the Education Funding Authority to become the new Harris Primary Academy East Dulwich. The consequence is that all three local Safer Neighborhood teams, East Dulwich, Village and College are now based in Camberwell - though there are nominal ‘contact points’ both at the East Dulwich Library and on the Kingswood Estate. But they are manned for a very limited time during the week and offer no privacy for reporting incidents.

Despite the strenuous efforts of the Village Ward Safer Neighbourhood Panel and Village Ward councillors to persuade the police to have a touchdown base in either East Dulwich or Village (to avoid the long travel times from Camberwell), there has been little progress. The Dulwich Hospital Gatehouse was identified as a viable location, and there were council funds available to convert it, but the Met were adamant that the new local policing model, introduced in June 2013, would easily be able to cope with crime in Dulwich without a local presence.

A year later not all local residents are convinced. Many consider that there is now a "black hole" in police provision. The police report that crime is reducing but there is a feeling that less crime is being reported because the police are no longer so visible on the ground - low visibility being perhaps the most common complaint.

Whatever the truth however, it must be a good idea to have local police based in or near the area they serve, and there is now an alternative location on the table - the former public toilets at the side of the Dulwich Library facing Eynella Road. The building is currently used for overflow storage for the library but is in relatively good condition and is the right size to provide two rooms (including a private meeting/reporting area) and toilet and kitchen facilities. It would be possible to put it in good order relatively cheaply perhaps using Council CGS funding.

This provision would not only serve to make police more visible by allowing officers to remain in Dulwich all day, but it would also make them more available and accessible - one of the main advantages of the Safer Neighbourhood Team concept, and the beat officers before that.

It would be really good if the Met could be a bit more flexible and take up the offer.