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Police merger blamed by councillors for Bexley's rise in crime

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 July 2019

Bexley has gone from the safest borough in London to the fifth safest. Picture: Imogen Braddick

Bexley has gone from the safest borough in London to the fifth safest. Picture: Imogen Braddick

Archant

A controversial merger of police units has caused Bexley to slip from being the safest borough in London, a councillor claims.

communities' cabinet member Alex Sawyer claims the impact of the new Basic Command Unit, combining Bexley with Greenwich and Lewisham, has had a detrimental impact.

Since the new structure went live, Bexley has fallen from being the safest borough to the third, then seventh safest, and now fifth.

The new basic command units were rolled out across London in November, bringing together single police units into joint operations for two or three boroughs.

The decision to merge units comes as Scotland Yard looks to save £325m by 2021/2022.

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At a meeting on Wednesday, July 17, Cllr Sawyer said: "There has been a decline in policing across the borough. That needs to be addressed with immediacy, worse than that there has been a double digit decrease in emergency call responses and the number of crimes going unsolved is increasing.

"We stand willing with police to support them wherever we can, but the mayor's BCU simply isn't working.

"I do think the mayor is obsessed with inner London - we are unique in that we have the A2, making it easy to get in and out of Bexley.

"We are faced with an increase in cross borough gangs - communication within the BCU is improving with the local authority but it is far from ideal. The BCU is only nine months in, there is time to turn it around. I wish whoever the mayor is the best of luck, but he needs to up his game."

Drug offences, an issue that has been associated with the BCU merger, have seen spikes since November. Burglary has decreased significantly, whilst overall offences since the merger went live rose month after month between November and January, and again between February and May.

Leader of the council Teresa O'Neill recently met with Sophie Lyndon, the deputy mayor, to talk about Bexley's issues.

Cllr O'Neill said: "We have changed our practices to make sure we help within our organisation. We have new ways we can help. We know we want to deliver what is right. "

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