I fought long and hard before my election, both as a candidate and as someone who cares about policing in our borough, to keep Southgate police station open. Here you can see the letter I sent to the Borough Commander and the response I received.
To be delivered to the Borough Commanders Office….
Dear Borough Commander for Enfield & Haringey,
May I first say thank you for attending our community event at the British Legion, Southgate, on the 24th May. It is important people from all ranks in our public services show a presence at these events, and form a bond with residents and community leaders. I hope this wont be the last we see of you in our area.
This letter I am writing to you however is regarding the current situation at Southgate police station and its immediate future.
I would like to put the case why Southgate police station should remain open:
Southgate police station is not simply an added extra in our parade of shops. Businesses, both big and small, require the station to ensure order, and make sure that should theft or disorder take place we have the knowingness our police station will come out, and deal with the situations as they come. Having gone from door to door and shop to shop along the months of campaigning, I have heard stories from local business owners and customers about the increasing theft and disorder along our high street.
In one example, a gang of seven youths entered a well-known family shop on the high street and in broad daylight took produce and walked out. The shop owner expressed to me that because there are so many of them at that time, and no police presence, he felt there was no point in even calling the police as they’d be ‘long gone’. After encouraging him to send video footage of the theft to police, the local force unfortunately did not find the culprits.
We have a total of seven banks on our road, pubs, coffee shops and restaurants… a relatively good mix. But such a high street, particularly with such a volume of banks, should be better policed as the risk will surely be increased in future.
Following from the example I have given, this leads to another problem, that given the volume of youths passing through the area and studying in Southgate, shouldn’t we better the policing presence to protect our young members of society?
We have in total six primary schools and a secondary school in the area, followed by a renowned College. The current lack of policing means that we have increased crime against youth, and already residents have come to me with their stories. You will remember when I mentioned the time a young boy was taken at knife point to the Santander opposite the Tube, and forced to withdraw all his cash. This is unacceptable, and the Met should have more community volunteers on the beat, provided with a station open 24/7 so that people can seek refuge.
In addition to the above, residents on Queen Elizabeth Drive, Oakwood Park Road, Chelmsford Road and Wynchgate predominantly have come forward to express their fear as burglaries and theft on residential property increases. In speaking to residents, you will find the unease that a closure of the station brings…A reduced police presence with fewer patrols, the safety at night around Southgate Tube Station, the unease of literally walking down the street.
When the station closes for good, the response times from Edmonton will surely not be good enough for Southgate residents. How can you therefore reassure us that the police presence in the ward will not be affected, and that crime rates will improve in future?
In being pragmatic, I would like to ask for a PLAN B
Given that it may be a ‘done-deal’ in that the Mayor, and the Metropolitan Police, have decided that the planned closure will be going ahead, I will like to offer my views as to how we can keep a presence in the area.
Southgate is also home to the Southgate Fire Brigade service. This building is ideally located at the heart of the ward, next door also to Southgate Tube Station and opposite Southgate College.
Has the Metropolitan Police considered sharing the resources for this building, and providing a future base for Southgate police and some of its offices at the fire service station?
Given that we understand the drain on Met resources, can we explore a potential partnership to utilise the fire station for both services? This idea has already been mentioned at Essex County Council, and has received some credit. If not the fire station, can the ward police explore a permeant base in a public building so that residents are aware where to find them?
Given the length of this email, I hope to simplify it better for you in a point by point, question by question list of what this letter seeks to achieve:
Q) Will the Metropolitan Police service look to re-open and make Southgate Police station fully functioning once more, for the benefit of residents, shop owners, schools, commuters, and frankly anyone who passes, lives or works in Southgate?
Q) Will the Metropolitan Police commit to keeping (at the very least) same or improving the level of police officers on the beat here in Southgate?
Q) Will the Metropolitan Police commit to working with Councillors, community groups, schooling institutions and businesses to ensure awareness of local crime, but in particular to make sure young individuals are aware of the causes and consequences of crime, and how they can prevent it?
Q) Will the Metropolitan Police look into sharing services with other public sector units such as the fire service in Southgate, to ensure we maintain some presence and a base that the community rely on?
Q) Will the Metropolitan Police give myself, community groups and residents an update as to the destiny of the station. Wil the station be sold off? Will it retain some community purpose? When can we expect it to be sold if the case. The quicker this issue is solved, the better the clarity for everyone.
Q) Will the Metropolitan Police look to better police presence in crime hotspots such as Southgate Tube Station to divert crime in future?
I hope to hear from you soon with answers to these questions, for the benefit to our community.
I kindly ask if you can email me your response at: cllr.stephanos.ioannou@Enfield.gov.uk
Cllr. Stephanos Ioannou,
Councillor for Southgate ward, London Borough of Enfield
Dear Councillor Ioannou,
Many thanks for your letter of 4th June 2018 to Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap who has asked me to respond on her behalf. I am the lead for Neighbourhood Policing for Enfield and Haringey boroughs and I oversee a broad portfolio including local ward-based policing and community, schools and youth engagement.
You may be aware that the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) carried out a public consultation last year on the MOPAC and Metropolitan Police Service’s Public Access Strategy, which recommended that each borough should maintain one 24/7 police station front counter. This strategy was ratified following the consultation and from mid-December 2017 each of the 32 London boroughs has adopted this approach, with Enfield’s front counter remaining at Edmonton Police Station. I have attached a link to the MOPAC website where full details can be found: https://www.london.gov.uk/mopac-publications/public-access-strategy
It is important to note though that the strategy is about far more than front counters, and reaffirms the Met’s commitment to visible and responsive policing at a local level. Every ward in London now has two PCs and a PCSO, overseen by a PoliceSergeant, dedicated to tackling the issues most important to local residents and building relationships with the community. You can find details of the Southgate Safer Neighbourhoods Team, along with details of the most reported crimes and crime prevention advice relevant to the ward here: Southgate | The Met. On this website (www.met.police.uk), in addition to finding out information about local policing, members of the public can report crime, seek advice and access a number of policing services.
Southgate Police Station, which as you know is not open to the public, currently houses a small number of officers working in local wards and this building will be released by the Met at a point to be determined, probably over the next two to three years. However, it is important to note that savings made from disposing of expensive to run buildings are being invested in front line policing: all officers are now equipped with tablets or laptops to enable them to complete reports whilst out in the community without having to repeatedly return to a police building; and increased numbers of officers are to be deployed in vitally important schools and youth engagement work. We are also committed to maintaining visibility and accessibility of local officers through weekly community contact sessions which are advertised on the website and elsewhere and we welcome suggestion as to where and when these sessions might take place. Enfield’s response teams, the officers who respond to emergency calls, have for some years operated from a site in the east of the borough and, as they are deployed across the borough in fast response vehicles, building closures will have no impact on the speed with which police attend urgent calls from the public. This model of response policing is in use across London.
I am grateful for your helpful suggestions about co-locating local officers in the heart of Southgate with the London Fire Brigade. This is very much in line with the Public Access Strategy’s proposal for Safer Neighbourhood Teams whose wards are more than a mile from the nearest retained police station to work from Dedicated Ward Hubs shared with other service providers or partners. I will pass on your suggestion to the Southgate SNT to make enquiries as to whether this location may be viable. Other possible venues could be medical centres, libraries, council buildings or community centres. Whilst these hubs will not be accessible to the public, they will ensure that officers can spend the maximum time possible working in their communities and not spend time travelling.
We are absolutely committed to bearing down on violent crime and are doing a huge amount of work to prevent violence, including operations involving both uniformed and plain clothed officers around transport hubs and crime hotspots, and utilising the support of the Met’s central resources such as the newly formed Violent Crime Taskforce. Critically, this is underpinned by the work of our local SNTs and I will ask Sergeant Matt Bloomfield to make contact with you to discuss your thoughts on how best we can support community groups, residents and businesses in preventing crime in Southgate.
I hope this covers all the queries you raised. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss any of these points further.
Superintendent, Lead for Neighbourhood Policing, Haringey & Enfield Boroughs, Metropolitan Police Service