The Extraordinary Council Meeting had been requisitioned to debate issues relating to the future of policing in Croydon and was proposed by Councillor Paul Smith and seconded by Councillor Gerry Ryan.
The wording of the requisition was as follows:
"This Council is concerned about the future shape of Policing for Croydon and in particular the loss of 4 of the 5 Police Stations currently serving the borough and the message this sends to residents. It is also concerned by the changes proposed to safer neighbourhood teams and the impact this has on our local communities in all wards. It is further concerned that there is to be such limited consultation that it will leave local Councillors, community leaders and the general public without a proper dialogue and input over the shape of future Policing.
This Council recognises that the cuts imposed on Metropolitan Police Service will require significant changes to be made. It recognises that Police Officer numbers in Croydon will, by 2015, only be restored to a level that nearly reaches the compliment we enjoyed March 2010 but is concerned that this is still not a fair share for our Borough and does not take account of the many and varied issues our borough has to face not least the aftermath of the riots in 2011.
It calls on the Mayor of London and MOPAC to reconsider the proposals as presented and to ensure there is a proper and meaningful period of consultation and engagement so that any consequent proposals have the confidence of the public and community leaders before decisions are made that will shape Policing in this Borough for a generation."
Councillor Paul Smith in moving the motion said that the proposals being put forward would shape how the borough was policed now and for many years ahead. He welcomed the comments of the police commissioner, following a recent visit, that Croydon had distinctive parts of the borough and that policing would need to reflect those areas. Cllr Smith went on the say that whilst welcoming the additional police officers that would be in Croydon there was concern that they would be vehicle based rather than on the streets. Safer neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) had been enhanced by PCSO's who provided an important on street presence and he thanked them for their work. The current proposals meant there was uncertainty around their future role. Cllr Smith went on to say that it beggared belief that a borough of Croydon's size would only have one police station and questioned whether the suggested areas for a counter service were appropriate. He went on to say that a proper period of consultation needed to be undertaken as getting it wrong today would mean paying the price tomorrow.
Councillor Tony Pearson in speaking against the motion made it clear that he was not supporting the closure of 4 out of 5 police stations but against the inaccuracy of the details in the motion. The motion claims there is limited consultation; there is 6 weeks of consultation in every borough, an online feedback facility and engagement at all levels with local police to ensure that residents concerns are heard. Cllr Pearson went on to say that the additional 117 officers would bring the establishment in Croydon to 740 its highest level. Whilst the loss of police stations was a concern, he went on the say that police officers reduce crime not buildings.
Councillor Maggie Mansell in supporting the motion spoke of how cuts to police budgets could affect domestic violence levels in the borough. Domestic violence is a crime and a common reporting system was developed with information provided by the police, social service and nurses. The Family Justice Centre provided collocation of children services social services, housing, police and legal advice. She went on to say that in Croydon 7000 calls for help had been made last year but only resulted in 145 prosecutions. She asked where the survivor of domestic violence would go to report a crime when there was only one centre?
Councillor Steve O'Connell declared an interest as a Member of MOPAC where he advises the Deputy Mayor on strategic issues and was therefore able to speak specifically on Croydon matters. In opposing the motion he said that the Family Justice Centre and Rape Crisis Centre was where people tended to report crime. The Ward panels have been a great success and there is a future for them going forward. He went on to say that there would be 117 extra officers, 110 in neighbourhoods, 4 extra officers in every ward, working longer shifts resulting in crime falling. He reiterated that the loss of police stations was not supported but there was a long consultation period including face to face with the deputy mayor and police commissioners where this would be debated.
Councillor Gerry Ryan in supporting the motion agreed that more police were needed but losing police stations was a major issue. He went on to say that Labour would lobby for more stations to support more police. Post riot, there is a need for a police station in London Road and there should be a lobby for that. He went on to express concern about arrangements for Safer Neighbourhood Teams and their future.
Councillor Simon Hoar in opposing the motion said that the proposal put forward would provide 117 police officers to the permanent establishment in Croydon, 110 will be directed to the SNT, as positive to Croydon. Across London there will be 26,000 officers, more than ever before. The SNT will be able to investigate local crime and have sufficient numbers to cover the whole area every day. He went on to say that he still wanted to see more police officers in Croydon. The plan put forward by MOPAC would take officers from behind desks and put on patrol where police officers would be seen. In Croydon there is a large 24 hour, police station and a brand new custody centre where CID are based and the front desk is open for 12 hours a day. New access points will be open around the borough where the public can visit, and more police home visits will be undertaken. He went on to say that most of Croydon's police stations are only public access counters now with large unused buildings behind them and closing these outdated buildings will save money and protect front line officers. He also said that police officers on the streets were more important than preserving an old building with only a front counter. In summing up Councillor Hoar said that the Council would work with local communities and SNT's to determine how best to serve Croydon. He wanted to see how to get the access points to work and how many could be put in place to serve the communities better.
At the conclusion of the debate a show of hands was requested and the Motion was put to a vote and lost by 35 votes against and 33 votes in favour.