Chief Inspector Barham came to the Stronger Safer Communities Select Committee this evening to give evidence on the Safer Neighbourhood Teams that he heads up. During our quizzing Cllr Parmar asked whether there were any cuts planned in the level of Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT) in Lewisham following the London-wide reduction in policing numbers by Boris Johnson and his steadfast refusal to rule out reducing the size of the SNT teams. CI Barham said there were no plans to change from the current basic complement of a SNT is 1 x Sergeant, 2 x PCs and 3 x PCSOs. How I pressed CI Barham to explain whether in policing terms the structure of the teams was effective - he agreed it was.
So, it's clear that if London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, is planning to cut SNTs then he'll be dismantling an element of neighbourhood policing considered to be a good working model. What's more with this type of support from within the Met and the cross-party support in the Council, Boris would be up for a major fight if any of his cuts led to smaller less effective SNT in Lewisham and elsewhere.
The Inspector was also quizzed on the priority-setting of the Ward Panels that support the work of the SNTs. He was clear that ultimately the Ward Priorities were set by the Panel - but that he considered that some of the priorities that had been adopted by some Panels were in fact part and parcel of the day-to-day job of policing in the wards. Two examples given of this were establising neighbourhood watch schemes and cycling on pavements.