POLICE budget cuts have come into force in Hammersmith & Fulham, causing the closure of the front counter of Shepherd's Bush police station and the reorganisation of Safer Neighbourhood Teams.
Scores of back office jobs have been cut, with some roles being transferred to SNTs, as the force deals with a £500million reduction in funds.
The redeployment will be done in batches, with a total of 89 new SNT officers on the streets by 2015, part of 2,600 London-wide. The total number of police officers will rise by three to 556.
The Met and Hammersmith & Fulham Council claim the reorganisation will result in more officers on the streets and less crime, but the borough’s opposition Labour party said the number of officers had actually reduced by five per cent in 2010, when there were 588 beat bobbies.
Lisa Homan, the party’s shadow cabinet member for crime and anti-social behaviour, said: "In reality, there are now less police officers in the borough than in 2010. The number of police working in Safer Neighbourhood Teams dedicated to wards has now been halved. This reorganisation appears to be just another attempt to mask this.
"This cut goes against the wishes of the vast majority of residents. Many have already noted the unfortunate absence of ward officers in their neighbourhoods. There should be more police not less.”
Deputy council leader Greg Smith said SNTs would now be unrestricted by ward boundaries, allowing high-crime areas to be more heavily served.
"The police are at their best when they are out and about catching criminals and acting as a reassuring presence on our streets," he said. "Releasing more officers from behind their desks and deploying them onto our streets is a positive move that will continue to exert strong downward pressure on crime in our borough."
The Met says that instead of visiting a front counter to talk to a police officer, residents will be able to request a visit from a local officer within 48 hours by calling 101, while SNTs will also carry out more investigations into low-level crime rather than passing cases on to other departments.
Former H&F Council leader and London Deputy Mayor for Policing Stephen Greenhalgh said: “After the most extensive public consultation ever carried out into policing in London, we have listened to what people want in putting bobbies before buildings. Moving 2,600 extra police officers into neighbourhoods provides a golden opportunity for the Met to reconnect with Londoners.”