Council leader welcomes Met Police reform plan that will see 24/7 front desk in borough

The plan also includes a promise to hire more officers and community support officers in ‘local neighborhoods’, reports Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Waltham Forest Council’s leader Grace Williams has welcomed the Metropolitan Police’s new plan to improve, a week after the local Labour Party renewed calls for “total reform” of the force.

Yesterday, the Met launched a two-year policing plan called “A new Met for London” which pledges to improve its community crime-fighting, internal culture and training.

Key promises include more officers and community support officers in “local neighbourhoods” and each borough having “at least one” 24/7 front desk.

Cllr Williams welcomed the announcement but repeated Labour’s concern that Waltham Forest residents scored the lowest in London when asked whether the police are doing a good job locally.

In a debate last week, Waltham Forest’s Labour group approved a motion calling for “total reform” of the Met.

The motion acknowledged the “many daily countless acts of individual bravery and selflessness” by serving officers.

However, it added: “It is clear beyond any doubt that the Met requires nothing short of total reform to create the culturally competent police service that Londoners deserve.

“The Met must accept it is institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic if it is to change.”

In a personal speech, Labour councillor for Cann Hall ward Kischa Green said her family had been devastated by the murder of her cousin Jaden Moodie in January 2019.

She added: “That was my first experience and I lost trust because of that, you can’t call them when you are in need.

“Many black people feel that if they call the police then they will be even worse off.”

Cllr Green gave two examples of two black residents in domestic abuse relationships who told her they received suspicion or a lack of action when they contacted the police.

A serious case review of Jaden’s death found that poor communication between police forces and delays in Waltham Forest Council processing his mother’s housing request impacted his exploitation by criminals.

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The Labour motion repeated concerns raised in the Baroness Casey Review including “systematic failures” in maintaining professional standards, funding cuts and the small force of officers assigned to Waltham Forest and Newham.

It also noted concerns that black residents are disproportionately impacted by stop and search tactics – an issue repeatedly raised in town hall meetings with local officers.

The Labour administration resolved to ensure the Met’s commander for Waltham Forest and Newham, Simon Crick, is “accountable” for police actions locally – although it did not specify how this could happen.

A spokesperson for the Met declined to comment on the Labour motion, instead referring the Local Democracy Reporting Service to a statement released by Met commissioner Mark Rowley.

Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, said: “Our people want to better serve the public and have been calling for change.

“We want the public to trust in the work we’re doing, to see how we’re fighting crime in their communities and how we’re keeping people safe.

“The data tells us that the majority of Londoners still trust us, more so than many other professions, but in recent years, confidence has fallen sharply and trust has been dented. We must repair that.

“We have seen serious failings, but the vast majority of our people come into work every day and do extraordinary things because they care greatly about the city and the people they protect.

“Day in and day out we see acts of kindness, bravery, dedication, and sacrifice from the 45,000 people in the Met.

“People who are driven by a desire to make the world around them a better place. We need to reform for them too.

“The progress we have already made is positive and should not be overlooked, but we know just how much more there is to do.”

A promise to open at least one 24/7 police station front desk in Waltham Forest is likely to be welcomed by residents, who currently have to travel out of the borough to Forest Gate, Hackney or Tottenham to speak to the police face-to-face.

Police stations in Leyton, Walthamstow and Chingford were all closed about ten years ago.

The police still operate in the borough from Chingford police station, a patrol base in Uplands industrial estate on Blackhorse Lane and a custody suite in Leyton – although none are open to the public.

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