London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of planning to axe dozens of police station front counters regardless of the outcome of a forthcoming public consultation.
Last month Conservatives on the London Assembly learnt that 37 counters were earmarked last December for closure, despite there being no mention of their axing in the Mayor’s recently launched police and crime plan.
Mr Khan’s previously claimed the closures would be necessary “if the Government proceeds with its cuts” to police funding, but a newly obtained document suggests a final decision has already been taken and a timetable for the closures approved.
The document says a 12 week consultation will get underway shortly followed by a “two week review” and then “publication early October and front counters closed late October”.
Conservatives say the document proves Mr Khan has “long-standing plans” for the closures which he “concealed” by not including them in his crime plan.
Gareth Bacon, the party’s leader at City Hall said: “These leaks reveal the plans have in fact been in the pipeline for many months and show the Mayor intends to hold a sham public consultation before closing the front counters regardless of the outcome.
“He is pulling the wool over the eyes of Londoners.”
The document obtained by Mr Bacon also contains embarrassing criticisms of how the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime engaged with councils over the setting of local policing priorities.
Each of the 32 boroughs policed by the Met was asked to identify those crime types of most concern to their residents. However officials say “there was a disparity between what we said regarding who sets them and what the councils heard.”
As a result of that confusion MOPAC “essentially let the local councils choose what they wanted and only got involved when they picked more or less than two plus ASB, or named a non-volume crime like “drugs”.”
Officials warn “This may cause problems down the line – when it comes to reviewing or taking responsibility for the priorities not being met.”
The document also reveals a low level of organisation during meetings arranged between Sophie Linden, deputy mayor police and crime, and borough leaders.
Officials note that “although the DMPC was accompanied by a director, the directors didn’t always capture notes or agreed priorities.
This made it difficult to go back to the council and BC on what was agreed” and that the Met “were reluctant to get involved” in discussions with local politicians.
The leaked paper also implies that the full programme of controversial merger of borough command units is also going ahead despite two pilots not having yet been assessed.
Discussing how long the locally agreed priorities should be in place, the document reads: “We have specifically stated that these priorities will last one year. Is that the right length of time?
“Specifically for the first year there will be a lot of changes within territorial policing – namely BCU changes and public access.
“There is a strong case to be made that the first set of Local Priorities last two years instead of one. This allows these changes to be bedded in”.