ANGER has erupted in Bexley with the confirmation the borough is to get one less police officer next year under the new formula agreed by the Metropolitan Police.

Council leader Councillor Mike Slaughter said he would continue to fight for Bexley to get its fair share of police resources.

He said: "Residents in Bexley will be very, very angry if next year they get charged a similar sum to last year by London's mayor for policing and see no officers for it."

His view was backed by Ronald Luff, from Erith, who rang the News Shopper to say the Greater London Authority should refund the £2m in council tax Bexley people paid for extra policing this year.

A 38,000-signature petition from Bexley succeeded in getting the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) to change its Resource Allocation Formula which gave the borough fewer officers than any other London borough even though it doesn't have the lowest crime rate.

The formula was changed by the MPA last week but, as a result, Bexley's target number of officers was reduced from 328 to 327.

When Bexley GLA member Bob Neill accused MPA chairman Lord Toby Harris of "sticking up two fingers" to the people of Bexley, Lord Harris replied: "Bexley's argument was obviously not as clear or as valid than perhaps the residents of the borough thought."

Cllr Slaughter has pointed to a recent study showed police officers spend nearly as much time 43.1 per cent in the police station as they do out on the streets and for five hours a day half the police officers working on a shift are in the station.

He has suggested Bexley should recruit more civilian staff to do the paperwork which keeps officers in the station, giving officers more time out on the streets.

Val Clarke, who chairs the police/community consultative group, said all Bexley residents should write to Lord Graham Tope, chairman of the MPA's Project Board, about the decision. The address is 6th Floor, Romney House, Marsham Street, London, SW1 3PY.

December 18, 2001 11:48

Linda Piper