Dear editor,

West Hendon’s Conservative Councillor really should not be such a naïve hypocrite, nor should she unduly frighten people about the incidence of crime in the ward. As your report showed, the most prevalent crimes in West Hendon are shoplifting and theft- hardly a surprise, when Brent Cross Shopping Centre is in the ward.

She should also accept her share of the responsibility for her Conservative Government’s draconian cuts to the police budget. The Conservatives, by the end of the current funding round, will have cut £1 billion pounds from the Met., equivalent to 40% of their original 2010 budget, before the Conservatives took power. These cuts are the result of the successive budgets voted through by Barnet’s three Conservative MPs. Cuts of that magnitude inevitably have consequences for services.

She suggests residents will be ‘unsupported and unprotected’ if the regrettable closure of the West Hendon SNT base proceeds. I would remind her that it was the Conservatives who are responsible for the loss of over 3000 police officers, over 3000 PCSOs and over 5,000 police staff: if anything is likely to affect local residents it is the Conservatives’ cut in police numbers not the SNT base closure. When I was Hendon’s MP, I negotiated with the then Police Commissioner local ward teams of 9 officers- a sergeant, 2 constables, and six PCSOs for each Barnet ward. Boris Johnson, then Conservative Mayor of London, cut these teams to just one officer. Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan has now provided three – two PCs and a PCSO- the most that can be afforded within the Met.’s tight budget.

She says there is ‘no police contact point for miles’. Her grasp of the Borough’s geography is therefore pretty poor too. Colindale Police Station is in fact 1.8 miles from the West Hendon base, about a 15 minute journey by public transport or a half hour walk. The police are also committed to holding local contact sessions every week, too.

No-one willingly wants to see police bases close. But the choice is between either doing what we can to keep up the numbers of officers or instead keeping buildings open. The available money cannot be spent twice. The Met has had to consolidate its estate, so that money spent there can be diverted to maintaining officer numbers, albeit reduced. The Mayor has raised his share of the Council Tax this year to the maximum allowed by law, so as to ensure that we can fund the 1000 officers needed to keep officer numbers over 30,000- savings in rent are used for this too.

My suggestions to the Conservative Councillor are simple: she should lobby her Conservative MP to stop voting for cuts in the police budget and instead to argue for restoration of the cuts he’s voted for so far (even the Home Secretary accepts the Met. is underfunded). She should lobby her Conservative Council colleagues to provide suitable premises free of charge or at a nominal rent to the Met if she wants a SNT base in West Hendon. And she should stop trying to scare people with inaccurate comments and misguided and misleading petitions.

Yours Sincerely,

Andrew Dismore AM

The original news story can be found here

Andrew Dismore’s Website can be found here

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