â€¦ and he thinks borough still has too many bobbies
Fighting crime: Chief Superintendent Matt Bell, head of Lambeth police, one of the capitalâ€™s most challenging policing boroughs, says performance was boosted after numbers fell
A London police chief claims crime has fallen after he lost 200 officers and says that his local force is still â€œover strengthâ€.
Chief Superintendent Matt Bell, head of Lambeth police, one of the capitalâ€™s most challenging policing boroughs, says performance was boosted after numbers fell.
His comments come as the Met is battling to find Â£500 million in savings by 2015 and a week after the police chief of neighbouring Southwark resigned, claiming the force was in â€œfinancial crisisâ€.
Community leaders in Lambeth said they found Mr Bellâ€™s comments â€œworryingâ€, particularly after the murder in Lambeth last week of 15-year-old Junior Nkwelle.
Lambeth councillor Florence Nosegbe, who has responsibility for tackling youth crime, said: â€œWe have seen crime reductions but it is always reassuring for the community to see local police officers. The possibility that we will be losing officers is really worrying.â€
Southwarkâ€™s London Assembly member, Val Shawcross, said she feared that the drop in police numbers could result in a resurgence of crime in Lambeth.
Ms Shawcross said: â€œIt has been clear that police numbers have been falling last year and this year. I think itâ€™s a real concern to the community. Itâ€™s a very poor situation at the moment and I fear it could get worse.â€ Figures show the number of officers in Lambeth has fallen from 1,038 in March 2010 to 846 at present.
The borough shut half its police stations to the public during the summer because of a shortage of officers because of the Olympics.
Since the Metâ€™s recruitment freeze was lifted in February last year, 52 officers have joined Lambeth, but they are outnumbered by 89 officers leaving to join other units.
Mr Bell said Lambeth police had been â€œover strengthâ€ for years and now had just over the number of officers it should. He said: â€œWhile there are fewer officers than in 2010/11, performance in the borough has improved this year, with reductions in burglary, robbery, serious youth violence, gun and knife crime.â€
Last week Southwark borough commander Charles Griggs, 52, said he was forced to quit because of slashed budgets â€” days after he revealed that two south London police stations would be recommended for closure and the buildings sold.