Bromley police force is to merge with Croydon and Sutton as the Met looks to make savings of £325 million by 2021 – a move which Bob Stewart MP has described as “bad news for Beckenham”.
The plans mean Bromley will combine with Croydon and Sutton to become one of 12 larger Basic Command Units (BCUs) in the capital rather than one of 32 borough forces as is currently the case.
Police officers, buildings and resources will now be shared across borough boundaries and each of the new BCUs will be led by a Chief Superintendent.
Five London boroughs have trialled the BCU system in two ‘pathfinder’ areas, in north and east London, since January 2017. The roll out of the units across the remainder of the capital will occur over the next 12 months.
The Metropolitan Police has faced government cuts of more than £700 million since 2010 and a further £325 million of savings are needed by 2021.
Announcing the plans, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “These changes are being made to ensure the Met is able to maintain the key services that Londoners require, despite the challenge of huge government spending cuts, which are driving down police numbers in London and across the country.”
However Bob Stewart MP, told News in Beckenham: “This is bad news for Beckenham as undoubtedly Croydon, which requires much more policing than we do, will leech police assets away from Bromley and maybe Sutton too. Personally, I worry particularly about emergency response times over such an area.”
Bromley Liberal Democrats have also denounced the move and have set up a petition in opposition to the merger.
Chloe-Jane Ross, a Lib Dem road safety campaigner, commented: “Bromley is geographically the largest borough in London, and the police here are already under strain – we lost three police stations just a few months ago. Now our police cars will be expected to help in Croydon or Sutton. How on earth are they going to get back quickly enough to assist local residents?
“We all know how much pressure the police are under due to Tory cuts, but while this might be a possible solution in inner boroughs, combining Bromley, Croydon and Sutton would create a huge area which in our opinion is just too big for one unit to cover without their own dedicated resources.”