A RETIRED policeman is warning that beat officers will be "mired" in chasing up minor crimes as a result of the reduction in opening hours at the borough’s police stations.
Last week the Met announced that public access to Greenford Police Station will be slashed, and Ealing and Southall stations will be shut at night to save money. Safer Neighbourhood Teams will also be shaken up, though police chiefs are claiming that the plans will mean more bobbies on the streets.
Chris Hobbs, who has over 30 years experience on the force and worked with Special Branch, retired just before the August riots in 2011 which caused huge damage in Ealing and left a man dead. Living in Hanwell, he began his career on the beat in Southall and has extensive experience working in the community and tackling gang problems.
He said: “Officers from local specialist plain clothes squads that deal with street robbery, burglary, drugs and street gangs are being disbanded with most officers being returned to standard uniform duties. These officers have in fact, been in the forefront of the current drive against gang related crime in London which has resulted in a reduction in youth violence.
"More bobbies on the streets sounds good in theory, but the officers from dedicated units run the risk of being mired in tackling minor crimes instead of tackling gang violence and street robbery.
"Events of August 2011 proved that when London sneezes, other cities in the UK catch cold. With police morale at rock bottom in London and elsewhere together with the potential of further social unrest due to benefit changes, Boris Johnson cannot afford to make a mess of his Police and Crime Plan.
"His next step should be to begin his consultation process again, but this time he and the Met should involve all Londoners."