Response times in some areas taking part in trials of the Met’s new local command structure have been branded “unacceptable” by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Mr Khan has also ordered Scotland Yard to deliver “immediate improvements” and pledged to ensure officers “have the resources to respond to local need in an efficient and flexible way.”
The Mayor’s comments come just days after the Labour leader of Barking and Dagenham Council slammed the Met’s performance since responsibility for policing in his borough was merged into a new command structure earlier this year.
Traditionally each of the 32 boroughs policed by the Met has had their own borough commander who allocates officers and resources to meet local concerns.
However, in a bid to cut costs in the wake of government funding cuts, the force is trialling a new structure dubbed the ‘Basic Command Unit’ (BCU) which sees borough commands abolished and resources pooled across a much larger area.
BCU is currently being trialled in two areas, one comprising Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering, and a second made up of Camden and Islington.
While City Hall has previously suggested the new system could being benefits, local politicians both in the pilot areas and in other boroughs have expressed concern that they risk distancing the Met from the communities it serves and weakening local accountability.
These concerns are likely to have been reinforced after Barking council leader Darren Rodwell published a letter to Mr Khan in which he claimed the Met has only managed to answer emergency calls within their target time on 52% of occasions since the pilot started.
He also wrote: “It is evident that Barking and Dagenham is under resourced and our BCU is unable to provide proactive and visible policing at this moment in time” and warned that officers were currently “struggling to deliver effective policing”.
On Friday, in response to Rodwell’s letter, Mr Khan accepted that response times “have been unacceptable” in some areas of the East London pilot area.
A statement issued by his office said the Mayor “has demanded immediate improvements” and insisted that a further rollout of the new structure would not be considered “until the evaluation is complete and performance has been improved and maintained.”
The statement added: “The Met are working to overcome these problems and improve performance, and City Hall remains in close contact with both the Met Commissioner and local councils around the progress of the trial and any changes that need to be made.”