Local Liberal Democrats launch campaign to keep police front counters open

Lynne Featherstone MP and Cllr Martin Newton meeting volunteers who man Muswell Hill Police station front counterTo make the case for keeping police front counters open in Haringey, Lynne Featherstone MP is this week writing to thousands of local residents, urging them to respond to a survey about their use.

The request follows the launch of a Metropolitan police consultation that could potentially leave Haringey with only one front counter open 24/7. The Hornsey and Wood Green MP, who ran a long campaign to keep Muswell Hill police station open, and fought for better opening hours at Fishmongers Arms in Wood Green, is asking local residents to support her campaign for existing front counters to remain open.

To help make the case, Liberal Democrat Crime Spokesperson Cllr Martin Newton is also meeting the Haringey Borough Commander this week.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“Front counters matter. Although some residents feel happy reporting crime over the phone or via email, for many people, being able to speak to someone about being a victim of crime, and getting the reassurance of a friendly face is crucial.

“Having fought long and hard for Muswell Hill police station to stay open, and for better opening hours at the front counter in Wood Green, I know that people need and want a physical place to go and report crime to. Please take a few minutes to respond to our survey, and help us make the case for keeping them open.”

Liberal Democrat Crime Spokesperson Cllr Martin Newton adds:

“Closing front counters is bad for crime reporting, and bad for crime fighting. If Haringey only had one front counter, most people would have to travel far, maybe for as long as an hour, to report crime face-to-face. I fear that would put people off.

“With the consultation running until the 27th May, we only have a short time to make the case for why our front counters need to stay open. Please call Lynne’s office on 020 8340 5459 to respond to our survey.”

The ongoing Metropolitan Police consultation (running until the 27th May) can be responded to by going to this site: http://www.keysurvey.co.uk/survey/360083/41a8/
Residents who want to participate in the Liberal Democrat survey should contact Lynne Featherstone MP’s office either on 020 8340 5459, via email on lynne@lynnefeatherstone.org or write to her at Lynne Featherstone MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Wood Green police station: latest plans

Wood Green police station film screenshotHere’s my latest column for the Ham & High:

The police are planning to expand their presence in Wood Green – keeping the existing police station in use but also moving the front counter to the Fishmongers Arms (right next to the Civic Centre, closer to the centre of Wood Green, closer to where people congregate and closer to the crime hotspots).

I was impressed with the new front counter – not yet in use – when I went with Cllr Robert Gorrie (Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Haringey Council) to see it and meet the local Commander, Dave Grant.

Having staffed and open police stations in the heart of our community is central to the fight against crime and the fear of crime. It gives us a police service that knows its community and whose community knows it. That’s why I fought for so longer to get the Muswell Hill front counter reopened.

The new front counter in Wood Green is much better equipped and located than the current one. It’s all ready to go – brand, spanking new – and has the advantage that local people would be able to use the front counter to report their problems in a much more peaceful and calm atmosphere – no longer needing to mix with the less salubrious side of station life with those who have to report to the police station, and so on.

If the existing building is also kept in use for police services, such as cells and a base for patrol cars etc, then this means overall a bigger and better police presence in Wood Green. Hurrah!

If!

We need to be sure that moving the front counter doesn’t become an excuse to cut back, sell off property – and leave us with fewer services. That has to be the concern in these times of economic uncertainty.

And then there’s still the question of exactly what policing will be done from the existing police station building. The police have promised a public consultation on that – including the possibility of moving the front counter back from the Fishmongers Arms, if it isn’t a success in its new location and local people want it moved back.

We also need to make sure that any building work on the old police station preserves its historic front, which is a real architectural gem that adds to our community. Last time the police made proposals for the station the local community was rightly up in arms at the insensitive architectural designs. That planning application was withdrawn and we await a new one, due to be submitted in the autumn.

So we should be due two chances to have our say – the public consultation on police services in the area and also the planning application for the Victorian police station building.

But ahead of that the police want to try out starting to use the new facilities at the Fishmongers Arms – moving their front counter service from the existing police station to the new location.

I know some people have been skeptical about this, worried that it’s a way for the police to preempt those two chances for us to have our say later in the year.

But if it is a genuine trial, making use of new expanded premises and with a commitment written in blood that the final decisions will only come after we’ve been consulted – then it means we get to try out the new services sooner and it makes for a better decision in the end if there’s some practical experience to draw on.

So this is a debate which will run for some time – and do let me know your own views.

You can also watch my latest film about Wood Green police station:

Liberal Democrats welcome news of 24 hour Wood Green police station

Following a successful campaign by Liberal Democrats to improve police services in Wood Green, the local police have agreed to re-open Wood Green police station 24 hours a day. The news was revealed in a question to Liberal Democrat crime spokesperson, Councillor Ron Aitken, in this week’s Full Council, after Lib Dems expressed concern about the High Road police station front counter only being open until 9 pm.

Lynne Featherstone MP and the Liberal Democrat team have been campaigning for better police services for Wood Green residents and launched a survey in the Autumn to understand residents’ priorities on policing in the area.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“This is fantastic news for Wood Green residents. A lot of crime happens at night, but for some time now, local people have been poorly served by a barely operational police station.

“It’s so important just to know that the police will be there for you at any time, day or night, if something should happen. I think this will make a huge difference.”

Cllr Ron Aitken, Liberal Democrat crime spokesperson, adds:

“Being out on the streets, talking to local people, it’s clear having a 24 hour police station is high up on the wish list, so I really welcome this terrific news!”

Success! Wood Green Police Station front counter to open 24/7

Hurrah! A good news story. Having nagged for months about better opening hours and the future of Wood Green police station – news reached me last night that the local Commander, Mr Grant, has agreed to open the police station front counter there 24/7.

Last week I posted this, and in September I posted this.

However, the good news has a caveat. The Commander has said that he will be monitoring visits to the station front counter and times of visits and then he will review the need or otherwise for these opening hours. I spoke to Mr Grant (Commander) this morning and he has gone one step further.

Already decked out and ready to go is a new front counter in Wood Green, not so far off the beaten track and right next door to the Civic Centre. It’s called – the Fishmonger’s Arms. From my previous discussions with him, Mr Grant has agreed to consult on how people feel about the front counter moving. (Mr Grant had already agreed to keep that front counter open later – until midnight – if it went ahead).

In our conversation today, he said that even if the review of the usage of the 24/7 Wood Green Police Station didn’t show the necessary footfall – he would be prepared to try a 24/7 service again if the front counter moved to the new premises as it is nearer the much higher footfall.

Please let me know what you feel about any potential move to a new police front counter at the Fishmonger’s Arms – next to the Civic Centre?