Plans for police 'contact' points in Wanstead and Woodford revealed (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Plans for police 'contact' points in Wanstead and Woodford revealed
Wanstead Police Station is set to close this month and will be replaced by a community 'contact' point which will be open just three hours a week.
The Met confirmed in March that it would shut the branch, in Spratt Hall Road, as part of a range of cuts designed to save the force £500million across London by 2015.
But until today the Met had been unable to say when the station would close or provide details of what alternative community facilities would be provided.
In a briefing with the local press this afternoon, Redbridge Borough Commander Sue Williams confirmed a range of changes and revealed that Wanstead Police Station would shut "in a few weeks" – although the exact day has still not been decided.
She said that from Monday September 16 police contact points will be established at the Wanstead House community centre in The Green and at the front desk of Woodford Green Police Station in the High Road.
Both will operate between 7pm and 8pm every Wednesday and Thursday, along with 2pm to 3pm on Saturdays, and will be staffed by one police constable or police community support officer (PCSO).
The public will not be able to report crimes during the sessions, which are designed as an opportunity for residents to discuss and raise issues.
Instead officers in the north west of Redbridge will have their own 'appointment car' which will travel to the homes of residents, when requested, to take details of crimes.
Or, if a person was to come to a contact point as the victim of a serious crime such as a sexual assault, they may be driven by an officer to Ilford Police Station so they can report it.
Woodford Police Station, in the High Road, had also previously been placed under threat of closure but was then saved from being sold-off following a community campaign.
It will continue to be used as a police base but will not be open to the public outside the contact point hours.
There was also a similar campaign to halt the sell-off of Wanstead Police Station, with residents fearing that its closure would reduce the public's access to officers and increase the time it took for police to arrive at incidents in the area.
But Detective Chief Superintendent Williams said the shake-up would include 86 extra officers being deployed in Redbridge over the next two years, and that there would be an increase in the numbers of 'bobbies on the beat'.
She said: "I think it will definitely improve things.
"Being given more officers can only help us deliver further confidence and satisfaction to victims and continue our reduction in crime".
Some boroughs, such as Havering, begun using the new system with contact points in mid-June.
Detective Chief Superintendent Williams said: "This is what is happening in boroughs all across London.
"In those boroughs that have already 'gone live' with it, there haven't been complaints or criticisms coming back from the public saying it's not enough."
Ilford police station in High Road will remain open with a 24-hour front counter service to the public, and Barkingside police station will be open to the public between 7am and 11pm on weekdays.
The borough is also being divided into three 'neighbourhoods' with their own dedicated officers under the plans, with wards in Wanstead and Woodford coming under the same 'North West' sub-division as Fairlop, Fullwell and Hainault wards.
Chadwell Heath police station will also close under the plans.
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