Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

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Robin Orton
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Location: London SE26

Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Robin Orton »

From the SydSoc newsletter which has just pinged into my inbox:

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT - proposed closure of Sydenham Police Station

We've just heard that the Metropolitan Police are planning to relocate the Sydenham Safer Neighbourhood Team to Catford police station, Bromley Road SE6 and to sell the police station in Dartmouth Road SE26. This move could take place as soon as the end of March. We are very concerned about this proposal, particularily as Sydenham is experiencing high levels of crime (it is currently a "hotspot" for robbery and knife crime in Lewisham). The Sydenham Society want to register our opposition to this move and will be seeking the support of councillors, traders and local organisations. Please register your objection by emailing Detective Chief Superintendent Jeremy Burton, Lewisham's Borough Commander. The Borough Commander's email address is: jeremyburton@metpolice.uk
Manwithaview1
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Location: Sydenham Hill Estate

Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Manwithaview1 »

High levels of crime?

I don't mind people lobbying against the closure. Telling the truth does help their case...

One incident happened on August 30 2003. Our front door was kicked in - I lived 120 yards from Catford police station. Called the police 999 and they took 103 minutes to arrive...

Would a move to Catford help when they can't even deal with local 999 calls?
Wouldn't that increase Met Police's fuel costs?
ALIB
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Location: East Sussex

Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by ALIB »

I have had varying experiences of the police station, living just 4 doors away.
I have a good rapport with the officers and PCSO's, and it is reassuring to have a police station only 20 yards walk away.
However, its operational times are office hours, and it has been obvious for some time, that the station is suffering from a lack of resources,
It was very convenient for reporting a bomb in Sydenham Hill Woods and finding a body in the same vicinity.
However, when reporting a burglary on a Sunday, the attending officers came from Catford.
Tim Lund
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Location: Silverdale

Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

My only experience of it was following the theft of a bicycle, which I'd described accurately enough. Sometime later they rang me to see if one they'd recovered was mine - the process took ages, and the one I was eventually shown looked nothing like it. The (non-uniformed) staff seemed uninterested and demoralised. I said nothing, but left feeling that our policing could benefit from better management.
Janeco
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Location: Sydenham

Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Janeco »

I am not sure that it is relevant to the closure of the local police station, but when my son was mugged recently (punched to the ground and phone and wallet stolen) the police were at our house in under 5 minutes. They were excellent - took him round in an unmarked car and there was good follow up with phone calls, checking of CCCTV (his Oyster card was stolen and used the same night on buses) and, although this bore no fruit, they could not have been more helpful and caring. They were I believe based at Catford police station rather than Sydenham. It is reassuring to see local police on the beat as the roads around this part of Sydenham are quite dark - he was mugged in Thorpewood Road which is on Forest Hill/Sydenham border.
Whether this is an indication that there is increasing crime in the area I don't know but it was the first time he has been mugged. Anecdotally there seem to have been a lot of muggings experienced by my younger son's friends, some with weapons. Only sensible advice is to keep all mobiles well hidden and don't walk alone in poorly lit streets late at night.
I hope the police station remains open as a base for foot/bicycle patrols.
stuart
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by stuart »

It is a large building and with such drastic cuts in the police budget realising assets and combining back offices has to be the way forward.

Plus the station was more convenient for Forest Hill than most of Sydenham anyway. So perhaps it should go. Is there hope the front office operation might be retained as, say, Sydenham Road shopfront as the Met has in many other local shopping areas? This would be more accessible and in touch with the local community than stuck up on the corner of an industrial trading estate.

Stuart
Sydenham
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Sydenham »

What's the demand and desire to retain a police 'station' in Sydenham? Is this the opportunity to get a more suitable presence on the High Street for the police - rather than as Stuart mentioned 'being stuck away on an Industrial estate' as they are at the moment?

I think there'd be merit in the SNT and 'front office' being housed in a retail outlet on the High Street. This has happened already at Gipsy Hill and Beckenham - just two I'm aware of.

There was a succesful campaign for Sydenham library recently - I'd be interested in how passionate forum readers are for a police retail presence in 'down town' Sydenham. I for one would support such a move and action to help achieve it.

Thoughts???
Sydenham
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Location: Wells Park

Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Sydenham »

Please note that the email address given for Jeremy Burton in the initial post of this thread 'bounces' and I think its missing a 'full stop' between 'met' and 'police'. It should be 'jeremyburton@met.police.uk'.
marymck
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by marymck »

I think there is a need for a police station in Sydenham. Where will our nearest police station be if this one closes? And by "nearest" I mean one that will in an emergency send officers to upper Sydenham.

Last year, while driving to Beckenham I drove past the scene of an accident that had clearly only just happened, on Westwood Hill near the mini roundabout at the junction with Sydenham Hill.

There was already quite a build up of traffic on the other side of the road. Plus someone was lying in the road, clearly injured.

I'm not a medic and was on my own (plus someone was already bending over the person in the road). So I decided the quickest thing was to call into the police station in Penge, which I promptly did (leaving my car parked with hazards flashing nearby).

The police officer said she couldn't send anyone as it wasn't within their jurisdiction, though she would report it!

So clearly we won't get any policing help from Penge!

If there really is a case to close Sydenham Police Station, then as a local resident and Council Tax payer I would like to see the evidence. If it is a purely financial argument then perhaps the building could be shared between a police presence and other community services.
Tim Lund
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

marymck wrote:I think there is a need for a police station in Sydenham. Where will our nearest police station be if this one closes? And by "nearest" I mean one that will in an emergency send officers to upper Sydenham.

Last year, while driving to Beckenham I drove past the scene of an accident that had clearly only just happened, on Westwood Hill near the mini roundabout at the junction with Sydenham Hill.

There was already quite a build up of traffic on the other side of the road. Plus someone was lying in the road, clearly injured.

I'm not a medic and was on my own (plus someone was already bending over the person in the road). So I decided the quickest thing was to call into the police station in Penge, which I promptly did (leaving my car parked with hazards flashing nearby).

The police officer said she couldn't send anyone as it wasn't within their jurisdiction, though she would report it!

So clearly we won't get any policing help from Penge!

If there really is a case to close Sydenham Police Station, then as a local resident and Council Tax payer I would like to see the evidence. If it is a purely financial argument then perhaps the building could be shared between a police presence and other community services.
The assumption here seems to be that things must be better done locally, and is a fairly common view point - it's why, for example, it's never good politics to close a small local hospital, for all the statistics doctors and health managers can produce about better service in larger, more modern buildings.

It's interesting, however, that Mary's experience with the Penge Police shows one of the characteristic problems with this sort of localism. Surely it would be better if police officers did not restrict themselves to Penge, Sydenham or any other relatively small part of London.

It's the same point I made to Robin on this thread and to which his response was
I think services should be managed and delivered at the lowest possible level, provided this does not result in significant inefficiencies and waste.
which begs the question why others should accept inefficiencies and waste due to this sort of localism, which seem significant to them, if not yet to Robin and maybe Mary.

If, as Mary wonders, it is a purely financial argument, then surely the best solution is to sell to the highest bidder?
Sydenham
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Sydenham »

An update on this from a Met press bulletin just forwarded to me. At the moment 'There has been no formal decision made about the building in Dartmouth Road and despite rumours no set date, month or year re closure.'

===========================
Sydenham police station

"The police estate contains over 800 buildings many of which, including some of our police stations, provide poor working conditions for staff, are inefficient for modern day policing and are being replaced by more modern, efficient and geographically responsive facilities.

“The MPS is reviewing the whole of the property estate to ensure we are making best use of it and identifying efficiency savings that can be reinvested into operational policing.

“As part of this we are looking at police estate requirements in Lewisham. Our aim is to improve the policing across the borough for the long term and looking at our property requirements is a key part of this.

“This includes the public access review (currently underway), which will determine whether the front counter at Sydenham is still required. If it is deemed so a replacement front counter would be opened before this service was removed from the police station.

“No decisions have been made about this building but we are reviewing it in the light of the operational policing requirements in the borough and across the capital. In doing so now, we have the opportunity to improve the estate at the same time as delivering substantial savings that will allow the MPS to protect operational capability.”
======================
JulietP
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by JulietP »

I wish people would stop describing the Kirkdale/Dartmouth Road junction as an "industrial estate". It is a tad demoralising for those of us who live in the vicinity. :(
Manwithaview1
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Manwithaview1 »

JulietP wrote:I wish people would stop describing the Kirkdale/Dartmouth Road junction as an "industrial estate". It is a tad demoralising for those of us who live in the vicinity. :(
The police station isn't on that junction. Willow Way is known as an industrial estate.
marymck
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by marymck »

I don't think Stuart was suggesting that Sydenham Police Station is on an industrial estate. Just that other police stations are on industrial estates.

I think the Sydenham Police Station is in a good position, both strategically and in relation to shops, houses, schools and transport. I do think it could do with some signage and maybe some open days and events to involve the local community.

BTW this + Kirkdale Institute + The Woodman = a hat trick of community resources lost to the Kirkdale/Dartmouth Road junction.
annabel mclaren
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Sydenham Police Station

Post by annabel mclaren »

SYDENHAM POLICE STATION
The Metropolitan Police are considering relocating the Sydenham Safer Neighbourhood Team to Catford police station, Bromley Road SE6 as they wish to sell their site in Dartmouth Road SE26. This move could take place as soon as the end of March. We've now set up an online petition to register the Sydenham Society's objection to this possible move. To sign the petition please go to: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save ... e-station/
Please alert friends and neighbours in Sydenham, Forest Hill and Perry Vale to the petition so that together we can register the strongest possible protest.
Annabel McLaren, Chair, Sydenham Society
sydeman
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Location: Upper Sydenham

Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by sydeman »

As a paid up member of the Sydenham Society, can i ask what the Sydenham Society issue is here? I would rather we had a constructive discussion on the whole issue here. I want to see a police presence in the area, possibly as a pop in shop, but see no reason to keep the large building open on Dartmouth Rd just for the sake of it. With modern communications, I can see the logic of centralising the force, and with the added benefit of something happening to this site which will aid everyone..a the moment, it doesnt, it is largely unused with the added problem of the hostel occupying the site. Can we be a little constructive and stop knee jerk reactions just for the sake of an arguement.
biscuitman1978
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by biscuitman1978 »

I agree with sydeman.

In the interest of a constructive debate, can anyone point me in the direction of the data or mapping that identifies Sydenham as 'a crime “hotspot” within the borough of Lewisham', which is how the petition describes it.

The only data I can find is at http://maps.met.police.uk/ Is there more available?
Tim Lund
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

I tend to agree with sydeman too - certainly about wanting a constructive discussion. Most of all, I'd like something from the police explaining what they are doing. On the face of it, losing a local police station is a loss, so I can understand what seems like a knee-jerk reaction.

Meanwhile, this should be of interest
The Local Assembly Team wrote:Dear Resident,

Thank you for attending the Council's Local Assembly meetings and contributing your views on issues that are important to you and your local community. Addressing issues around crime and antisocial behaviour is one of the priorities identified by most Local Assemblies and so we wanted to let you know about the Lewisham Crime Survey that launched on Thursday 26th January 2012 and will close on Wednesday 22nd February 2012.

The Council would like as many people as possible who live, work, visit or study in Lewisham to complete the survey, to this end I hope that you will give us a few minutes of your time to let us have your views on crime and anti-social behaviour in Lewisham.

A report with the results of the survey will be available on the Councils website . The results will help to set the annual priorities of the Safer Lewisham Partnership for 2012-2013. The following questions will also guide Lewisham Council, the Metropolitan Police and the other partners when focusing activity and funding to tackle these priority areas over the next year.

Please note, all responses are confidential and anonymous, any comments that you make will not be identifiable.

Please just click on the link below to begin the survey.

https://lewisham-consult.limehouse.co.u ... ime_survey


Please circulate this link to anyone you know who lives, works, studies or visits Lewisham, if you think they would like to take part.

Thank you very much for your time.
bensonby
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by bensonby »

I've read this thread with interest over the past few days but haven't had the time to sit and write a proper reply.

As it is, I'm unaware of any plans to close/move the police station or, indeed, what the latest plans for the MPS estate is locally. I do know that there is a review of front-office provision across the borough: it's actually something that happens quite regularly - examining footfall at the five front offices that are open across the London Borough of Lewisham. I also know that there is a MPS-wide review of the whole estate, how (or whether) buildings are fit for purpose, what they do, how can resources be used more efficiently and so on.....this is all being considered especially considering the strain on resources at the moment.

Before we go any further perhaps it would be useful to know what police stations we have in the borough and what happens at each of them:

Lewisham:

Lewisham Police Station is the HQ for the borough, it is shared by several departments, Lewisham Borough Operation Command Unit [BOCU] only actually uses just about half of the building - the other half are used by the Specialist Crime Directorate [Homicide and Serious Crime] and the Mounted Brach. They are pan-London deparments and are organisationally seperate from Lewisham BOCU. Aswell as the Senior Management at Lewisham, there is the custody suite, borough intelligence departments, planning departments, a training department, vehicle fleet resources, CID, case clerks that put stuff together for court, CPS lawyers, several safer neighbourhood teams [SNTs], the town centre team, and it is a parading site for response team officers. It also has a front office that is open 24 hours a day.

Catford:

Arguably, Lewisham's "2nd station". It has a custody [which is mothballed, to be used for special events, overflow, when other custody suites are being renovated etc], It is home to a couple of SNTs, it parades response team officers, it is home of the "Taskforce" which patrol in plain clothes and deal with robberies, it is also home to a couple of back-office functions such as the press office. It has a front office that is open 24 hours a day.

Deptford:

Is a smaller station than the two above, it is home to response team officers and, I think, 1 SNT. It also has a front office open 24 hours a day.

Sydenham:

Is home to 3, I think SNTs, It was until very recently also home to a Special Constabulary unit that had pan-London duties. I think they have now moved to Eltham though. It has a front office open office hours Monday-Friday.

Brockley:

Is home to a couple of SNTs. It also has a front office that is open for a few hours a day Monday-Friday staffed by volunteers.


Further to explaining the above I also think it is useful to explain how people come in contact with the police and how the police respond to calls and who comes:

The response teams are who 90% of people who call for an officer will meet: they operate 24 hours a day, every day, and turn up in marked police vehicles, such as "panda cars" and vans. as you can see above, they work out of three police stations. In some boroughs they work out of one site and it has been mooted in the past to do the same at Lewisham. (We'll come back to this in a minute.) Some years back every station had response team officers in them.When you call 999 (or 101) and it is deemed that a response is necessary the control room will most probably despatch a response car. when you call police the call goes through to the control room - which is a call centre based in Lambeth (there are three in London, but all Lewisham calls go to the Lambeth one). They then radio out the details of the call - the location and so on... Generally speaking response PCs do the initial investigation of a crime/incident and then it will be passed to teams that are dedicated to investigating particular types of crime - in theory at least leaving the response officers more free and available to answer calls.

The SNTs are "local police". They are much smaller teams (usually only a couple of PCs and a few PCSOs). The SNTs' job is to patrol areas on foot or by bicycle, to follow up with victims of crime, to get to know the area and its problems, to deal with neighbour disputes, to execute warrants, to provide ongoing support for ongoing problems etc. It's rather more slow time and a lot of lower-level issues are delegated to them. They don't work 24 hours - but they do work evenings and weekends and their hours aren't particularly "regular". Anything requiring a quick response won't be handed over to them (unless, they happen to be in the area at the right time etc)

The other way people come into contact with the police is at front counters: i.e. walking into a police station. To be honest, it's not as common as it once was - my gut instinct actually says that the demand isn't there - there has been a trend in recent years (especially with phones, internet reporting and so on) for business to be conducted over the telephone, or for the police to call at people's houses (it's all part of the service!) - to be honest, I don't understand why many calls aren't resulted in a "direction to the police station" rather than the despatch of a car. But there you go, the net result is often a very quiet front office: I've known of Catford and Deptford front office to have absolutely no callers all night. Before the advent of mobile phones, I suspect, where people in distress might have made their way to a police station - now they just dial up. Either way, this is, I believe, the rationale behind studying the footfall at the police stations. (I believe the study is still ongoing - but it might have ended).


The trend in recent years has been towards centralisation: this invariably means smaller, local, buildings have closed and resources have been centralised in larger buildings. On many levels this makes sense - vehicle fleets are easier to manage in one place, it is easier to hand cars over between shifts, custody suites are more efficient if there are, say, 30 cells in one station rather than 10 cells in three. It's about economies of scale and the effective pooling of resources.

But what about response times? Common sense would lead one to believe that if you are further from a response-team station then you won't get as quick a response. I thought so too - that's why I analysed several months' response-time data in my spare time as a bit of a hobby - it simply wasn't the case that places further from police stations got slower-response times. Why? Because the Police aren't the Fire Brigade: they don't sit in police stations waiting for things to happen. When not answering a call, or dealing with the fall-out from a call [paperwork!] police officers are out and about on patrol looking for crime/criminals etc. As such, the chances of a police car being close to a call are a little bit random.

In my gut I don't like the idea of police stations closing. But we have to be efficient - especially in an era of contracting budgets. SNTs need to be near to their patches. I know some don't work out of police stations: some work in premises that aren't open to the public - offices on their patch. I like the idea of front offices - where members of the public can walk in to make an enquiry. But, again, they seem rather under used and the MPS doesn't help itself in this field by directing people to them rather than sending out officers - to calls that really aren't urgent and could be dealt with at a police station. It's something I'd encourage: but culturally it doesn't seem popular or "what's done".

It's not a straightforward issue: and if we want to have the debate let's at least have an informed debate.
Annie
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Location: Sydenham

Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Annie »

Thank you for making it all so much clearer Bensonby.
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