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Camden News - by PAUL KEILTHY
Published: 29 January 2009
Police set to break ‘bobby on the beat’ pledge

A POLICE pledge to ensure a “bobby on the beat” stays stationed in every neighbourhood in Camden is set to be ­broken to cover ­boroughwide pressures.
The Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNT) initiative is supposed to keep six-strong police units in each ward regardless of crime levels or special events elsewhere.
But Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Dominic Clout said he is ready to try a wider “cluster system” instead.
It is understood to be the first departure from the three-year old pledge in London.
Members of the citizens’ panels which work with the SNT have expressed concern.
Nigel Steward, chairman of Hampstead’s safer neighbourhood, said: “We understand the lack of resources, but this commitment was in tablets of stone. They [the police] have to be very careful how they deal with the issue.”
Cantelowes panel chairman Meric Apak said: “There may be advantages to removing the ring-fencing from a ward in terms of economies of scale but each panel will lose some control over where their teams patrol.”
Camden’s police consider their SNTs among the best in the Met, and acknowledge the importance of face to face interaction between residents and dedicated officers.
But the ring-fence means exceptionally low-crime areas have the same strength of community police as high crime areas.
While teams in the south of the borough are typically tasked with tackling drug-dealing, burglary and car break-ins, in the north they have been dedicated to issues like policing the school run and stopping cyclists riding on the pavement.
Yesterday (Wednesday), Camden’s community policing boss Superintendant Raj Kohli said: “This will actually give residents a better service. I know that people will think that something is being taken away but no one is losing their police team – if anything they’re gaining a seven-day approach, with Safer Neighbourhoods officers more contactable than before.”
The changes are understood to be a direct response to the Home Office’s requirement that police forces have a police “pledge” including a promise to return calls within 24 hours, impossible under the current structure.

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