Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

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Tim Lund
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

Bensonby - I'm impressed!
annabel mclaren
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Location: thorpes

Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by annabel mclaren »

Thank you Bensonby for the background info above.

The Met Police's Crime Mapping data at this link: http://maps.met.police.uk/access.php?ar ... te&order=d shows that sub ward E01003335 (central Sydenham, including the Thorpes) has the highest levels of reported crime in the area. Continuing high levels of crime (including Monday night's stabbing in Princethorpe Road) show that we're quite right to focus on issues such as the future of the local police station - and the alternatives, if it is to be sold off. Although the petiton has been started by the Sydenham Society it is being signed by others in Forest Hill and Perry Vale who will be affected. Strong local feeling expressed against the closure will provide us with a demonstration of local opinion to negotiate an acceptable compromise through the local Assemblies.
marymck
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by marymck »

Thanks Bensonby for such a useful overview of what happens at each of the Borough's police stations.

I still completely agree with Annabel's comments though, and I have signed the petition.

Among my reasons for doing so is the very real belief that it is the preception of having a local police presence that helps as a deterrant against crime.

I feel comforted knowing I have a local police station. It was one of the considerations when my husband and I bought our house.

I have thankfully only twice had to visit police stations on my own account, in what I believed at the time to be an emergency. On both of those occasions the station did not have an open all hours front desk.

The first occasion was when I was living in the New Forest, many years ago. Someone followed my car from Southampton. (I kept telling myself it was my imagination and couldn't really be happening.) As soon as I turned onto a quiet country road, he then repeatedly rammed the back of my car, and kept trying to get alongside to force me off the road. I drove to Hythe police station and straight under the "police cars only" entrance. He followed me. Luckily he didn't realize (as I didn't!) that the police station was closed at night and he backed out and drove off.

It was only after considerable banging on the back door and shouting that I crept round to the front and realized that the station was closed. Luckily there was a wall telephone connected to Lyndhurst and they sent a car. It took nearly an hour to reach me, during which time I hid quivering behind some bins.

On the second, less dramatic occasion, I was in Beckenham when I realized that my petrol tank had been drained and the cap stolen. This was on a weekday, in the early afternoon. I was in a bit of a panic because I didn't know if it was safe to drive the car to a petrol station (or even if I had enough petrol to get to one).

So I went to Beckenham police station. A huge building. There were definitely police in the building, but no one would answer the door. A group of policewomen came along and I asked them for help. They just said I had to phone up one of the numbers listed on the wall. When I eventually got through they said it wasn't a police matter. I insisted on a reference number, so then (reluctantly!) they did some paperwork.

Several days later I got a call from a very nice local officer, who told me that big old Mercedes (like mine) and Jaguars had been targetted recently and there was a real spate of this going on. They wanted to take fingerprints, but of course by then I had cleaned the car and touched up the damaged paintwork.

My point is that it's that local knowledge that's so valuable. The police officer who called me did so from Sydenham police station. Had I been at home when I discovered the damage to my car, I would have gone into Sydenham police station and there might have been a good chance of getting fingerprints.

Even with Sydenham police station operating only Monday to Friday office hours (which I'm a bit shocked to discover!) presumably there is good CCTV coverage and a wall telephone for use in emergencies?

This area has just lost our Adult Education Centre, which is being turned into a huge primary school. Lewisham have stated categorically that there will be no adult education facilities in the Kirkdale Institute. Surely better use could be made of Sydenham Police Station? Could not Neighbourhood Watch groups be encouraged to meet there? Could police from that station get involved in educating the vast numbers of local children who don't know how to cross the road or use a bicycle safely? Get them when they're young, as the Jesuits do.

And maybe at night and at weekends parts of the police station could be used for Adult Education, such as Highway Code education.

The police should become more a part of our local community, rather than less.

We've just lost two community buildings in this small area. Please don't let us lose another.
Tim Lund
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

marymck wrote: I still completely agree with Annabel's comments though, and I have signed the petition.

Among my reasons for doing so is the very real belief that it is the perception of having a local police presence that helps as a deterrant against crime.
I take it that this very real belief is not affected by the fact that, from what Annabel writes, we do seem to be a crime hot spot, but we do also have our local police station.

Like you, I too want more local information, and I'm grateful for you and others - especially Bensonby - for supplying it on this Forum. There are other excellent, more systematic, sources of local information, for example the information about local trains and buses available, which, thanks to the progressive attitude towards information of officers working for Transort for London, is available via various phone apps. Such technologies advantage the more web savvy, probably younger sections of the community, but everybody is still better off.

There is also a fair bit of local information available from Lewisham Council, but our councillors do not have the same commitment to public service. Rather than invest in the technologies which TfL have pioneered for the public sector, and where the MPS are following on the evidence of Annabel's crime mapping link, Lewisham Council still fails to supply useful RSS feeds, such as to planning applications, where both of us would like the tools to empower a more vigilant public.

Instead, we get knee-jerk reaction.
Last edited by Tim Lund on 1 Feb 2012 14:58, edited 3 times in total.
marymck
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by marymck »

Tim Lund wrote:I take it that this very real belief is not affected by the fact that, from what Annabel writes, we do seem to be a crime hot spot, but we do also have our local police station.
No it's not ... because I believe it could be even worse without the deterrant of the local police station.

Here is the link to the area closest to Sydenham police station.

http://maps.met.police.uk/access.php?pc ... rea=00AZGU

"Violence against the person" is less in the ward in which the police station is located. It's a bigger area than the one on Annabel's map too. Maybe those figures are less because of the calming influence of having a police station nearby?
Tim Lund
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

Maybe. If it was, would you then want a comparable size cop shop on the Thorpes?
marymck
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by marymck »

Maybe more patrols - from police based at Sydenham police station.

As you well know, I'm not saying build a police station on every corner. Just let's make best use of the assets we've already got.
Tim Lund
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

marymck wrote: I'm not saying build a police station on every corner. Just let's make best use of the assets we've already got.
We agree. And in this case, I'm prepared to trust the MPS judgement in selling parts of its property estate to invest on modern technology. Here's to Lewisham Council following suit.
marymck
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by marymck »

Sorry Tim, I should have said "make best use of the assets we've already got with which to serve the local community"

We're obviously going to have to agree to differ on this one. I feel I've said all I want to say on the debate at the moment.
Last edited by marymck on 1 Feb 2012 16:17, edited 1 time in total.
Tim Lund
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

I agree with you here too, Mary. I guess the difference is that I can imagine a better service being provided locally without a dedicated police station in the area - in the same way that people in Sydenham can get a better service for say booking holidays, without there being a travel agent's on Sydenham Road. I think that's what people want, locally, even it it's not what you'd think of as a local service. Local services don't necessarily provide the best services locally.

It's a similar point to one I made on a recent thread about Sydenham Traders on-line - using a local data set which can be delivered by Google is clearly much better than trying to reinvent it. We should be thinking, locally, about what we can do to enhance what these larger, better resourced outside organisations can and will do, and work with them - not try to second guess their informed judgments. It's reasonable for us to ask why they do what they do, and in the case of the MPS, Bensonby has given a fine response. Google is also committed to transparency - and its own profitability.
Tim Lund
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

The new Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe may turn out to be some long run good news on policing, judging by this in yesterday's Standard
e told the London Assembly that borough commanders would be asked about their performance and "will be expected to account for it".

He added: "This is not a case of trying to destroy them. It is a case of finding out what is happening and what people are doing about it."

Mr Hogan-Howe said the scheme, called "Crime Fighters", aimed to even out inconsistencies in the performances of boroughs.
Source here

My interest in this comes partly from having learned a few months ago that Lewisham and Greenwich are the two London Boroughs where fewest people think the police are doing a good job. Of course, perceptions are not always correct, and this may not be statistically significant, but I'm sure it's worth following up. If this is what the new Commission is doing, we should be grateful.

Comparative data, such as the Met's key performance indicators for all 32 London Boroughs, are always the starting point for reform, which can take us out of our comfort zones.
bensonby
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by bensonby »

The problem is is that police "performance" is notoriously difficult to measure: how do you measure the effectiveness of the police officers who search for and return the elderly dementia sufferer? Who attend the sudden death of an induvidual? Who give advice at calls where no crime has been committed?

I did an FOI request some time back asking how many police calls resulted in a crime report: the answer was a tiny about. I have the spreadsheet on my computer but I can't work out how to attach it.

A good recent article that provides an overview of the issues aboit "what are the police for?" is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16789158

The Last royal commission on policing which was back in 1962 gave a wide-ranging definion of what the police are for - and not many of them are measurable, most notably: [para 59.] a duty to befriend anyone who needs their help.

And, finally, a quote ascribed to Robert Peel [but he almost certainly never said it]:

The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

[although I don't entirely agree with it]
bensonby
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by bensonby »

marymck wrote:Among my reasons for doing so is the very real belief that it is the preception of having a local police presence that helps as a deterrant against crime.
But does being near a police station deter crime? Does the immediate area around Deptford Police Station suffer less crime than elsewhere? I'd argue that that certainly isn't the case: To use an exteme example Ludwick Mews is about 200m from that nick (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8670067.stm)
stuart
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by stuart »

Good post Bensonby.

Another good reason why the police should not deal exclusively with crime is that if they inhabit a world entirely composed of criminals, terrorists and anti-social thugs - then that becomes the norm and the police become part of it - regarding everybody else as 'the enemy' to be controlled and coralled (and don't we see this in peaceful demonstrations?)

Helping old ladies across the road, doing road safety classes for kids is good, and hopefully feels good doing it. It puts the police in touch with the community, particulary the more vulnerable members, and in turn makes police more familiar and approachable by the public.

That's the bottom line - depite clever sleuthing, DNA analyses, armed response units and the rest - the police cannot police efficiently without the consent, nay enthusiasm, of the community. They have lost it before and focussing solely on conviction statistics may make it happen again.

The police should never forget that subtle change in their title from police force to police service. And the politicians need to remember it too. Particulary in our hardened cutback times.

Stuart
Tim Lund
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

Interestingly, the police "Key Performance Indicator" that I picked up on - how many people feel the police are doing a good job - is very much one to assess perceptions. The problem for members of our community who want things to stay as they are here is that they are demonstrably in a minority
Metropolitan Police Authority wrote:KPI 6 – Local Police Doing a Good Job

13. The percentage of people sampled who think the police in their area are doing a good job is 66% (Q1/11). This is a 4% drop from the rolling 12 months ending Q4/10 but remains static compared to Q1/10. At borough level ‘confidence’ ranges from 49% (Lewisham and Greenwich) to 82% (Sutton).
source here
bensonby
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by bensonby »

The problems with those sorts of surveys though Tim are that they generally survey people who have had no (or very little) contact with the police, have very little knowledge of what the police do on a day to day basis and have no strategic appreciation of how resources are used or the demands placed on the organisation. Do people realise, for example, that the Met receives over 10,000 calls daily to the control room?

The more accurate survey, possibly, would be asking people who have had dealings with the police - whether their expectations were met, whether communication was good enough etc etc. Or, asking more specific questions about expectation and so on...

A better measure of quality of service, surely, would be things that come from places such as the HMIC etc?
stuart wrote:(and don't we see this in peaceful demonstrations?)
Having been to several, I don't think we do see that in the slightest....
stuart
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by stuart »

Apologies Bensonby. Hadn't got you marked down as a commie agitator ... :shock:

Stuart
Tim Lund
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Tim Lund »

bensonby wrote:A better measure of quality of service, surely, would be things that come from places such as the HMICetc?
Quite possibly - you will know more about this than me. Do you think their assessments are better than the Met's KPIs?

In either case, we have on one hand the professional / managerial approach, which is to leave decisions to experts vs. the populist / community approach of letting non-experts get involved. In general I think expertise does help, which probably says something very profound about my deepest political and social attitudes, but on the other side, there has to be some way for the public to challenge what the experts do, and ask them to explain themselves. That's my idea of an Open Society (as in this classic text), as opposed to what seems to be our Coalition Government's idea of Localism and the now less heard of 'Big Society'.
Dodgybird
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Re: Proposed closure of Sydenham police station

Post by Dodgybird »

What would Fred say?

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