Jan 3 2013 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
A LOCAL MP is calling for the Prime Minister to explain why hundreds of police officers have been axed in Harrow and Brent.
Gareth Thomas, Labour member for Harrow West, is calling on David Cameron to explain why there have been reductions in frontline staff.
The demand was made after he uncovered data which reveal the number of police officers and community police officers in Harrow and Brent has fallen significantly.
The figures, revealed through a Freedom of Information request, show that in March 2010 there were 519 police community support officers (PCSOs) and police officers in Harrow, but by March 2011 this had fallen to 491.
In April this year, the number of frontline police staff in the borough fell further, to 419.
Mr Thomas said: “David Cameron needs to explain why London mayor Boris Johnson has allowed so many frontline police staff to be axed in London at a time of growing concern about gang crime and over a period that included major riots.
“The figures for Harrow Police show almost a 20 per cent cut in frontline police staff – this is a significant amount and a lack of police officers will clearly adversely affect Harrow residents.”
However, the police say the number of officers goes up and down, but the reduced number is being addressed by creating a new local policing model and through recruitment drives.
A spokesman for Harrow Police said: “The number of officers fluctuates depending on the number leaving and retiring compared with the number being recruited.
The Metropolitan Police Service decides how many officers to recruit based on projected operational requirements in line with the anticipated available budget.”
The spokesman said the force had to make savings of £550million by April 2015.
In Brent, the number of PCSOs has dropped by 77 since March 2010 to April 2012, which equates to a 56 per cent drop, the third highest in London boroughs.
The number of police officers fell by nine per cent, from 704 to 642, during the same period.
Brent borough commander Matthew Gardner said: “A number of Brent’s officers have successfully moved to other parts of the force over recent months – including PCSOs becoming police officers.
“This reduced number of officers in the borough is temporary and is being addressed in a number of ways. Proposals under the forthcoming local policing model mean that Brent will have more frontline officers than ever before.”
A spokesman for the Mayor of London’s office for policing and crime said there had been a recruitment drive since April, adding: “There will be 2,000 more frontline cops in neighbourhoods under current plans and that is the priority for Londoners.”