Stephen Greenhalgh, the Deputy Mayor for Crime and Policing in London, recently gave a speech to ACPO about the challenge for the police of cutting crime while also coping with a reduced budget.
Naturally Mr Greenhalgh talked about his own experience in London.
Under Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s leadership, the Met have successfully introduced a new local policing model.
“By putting 2,300 more officers into visible, neighbourhood roles, and by moving to a flexible team model, neighbourhood Inspectors are able to put the cops where the crime is because crime patterns are not uniform. Some wards like Soho have 10 times more crime than other wards in the city of Westminster.
Now neighbourhood teams are tasked to prevent and detect local, beat crime – instead of simply providing daytime reassurance.
In the last year the crime drop has accelerated – down 6% in the year to March. This now means crime overall has fallen more than 17% since Boris was first elected – two thirds of that fall came in the last two years under our present
Commissioner (which helpfully coincides with my tenure in office).
In a city of our size that means 120 fewer victims of crime every single day. And crime is now falling at a faster rate than the rest of England and Wales.
In fact I predict that the next quarterly ONS statistics for recorded crime will demonstrate that London’s performance is propping up the rest of the country – where I note that some forces are now seeing crime rise.
Without this progress in London, it might not be possible for Home Office Ministers to laud a national crime reduction this year.”
It doesn’t mean that everything is fine:
There is clearly more we need to do.
Local confidence in the police is too variable. There are success stories like Waltham Forest and Hackney but much more needs to be done to boost the public’s confidence in the police in boroughs like Lewisham, Haringey and Barking & Dagenham.
But how can the savings be achieved while the numver of police are maintained?
Unavoidable budget cuts have forced us to make £500 million in savings.
Much of that will come from releasing under-utilised assets across the Met’s old and sprawling estate of over 500 buildings which was costing over £200 million a year to maintain in a dilapidated state.
In London that means reducing the size of the Met police estate and selling up to 200 buildings.
Many of these were police stations that had been surplus to operational need for years, but the police – lacking political support before now – had been unable to dispose of them without a public backlash, so the estate was half empty and crumbling and resources were being wasted.
Then there were five principles for “policing in austerity” which Mr Greenhalgh offered:
1. Reduce, Release, Reform.
Reducing the overheads. Releasing under-utilised assets. Reforming policing by changing the rank mix so we have more bobbies than ever (26,000) and fewer supervisors and police chiefs.
2. Find time to prevent crime.
The police need to find the time to be much more preventative and to design out crime.
3. Compete or commercialise all support services for the police.
The police must embrace private enterprise and use competition as a way to drive down the cost of support services.
4. Decentralize and empower.
The police must decentralize both decision-making and budget responsibility to designated leaders who must have full authority but also be held to account for performance.
5. Collaborate and integrate at the local level.
No single agency holds all the tools to prevent crime and disorder. The best problem solving involves really good collaboration with partners.
These are principles that are being applied to make Londoners safer. However Police and Crime Commissioners in the rest of England and Wales would also be well advised to read Mr Greenhalgh’s speech.