A new model for policing in business areas is to be trialled in London Bridge.
A launch event was held at the offices of Hewitt Associates at More London at the end of April under the auspices of the Team London Bridge business improvement district which is one of the partners in this cross-London venture.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Rod Jarman from the Metropolitan Police gave a background briefing on the work that the police service is doing to reduce the (widening) gap between fear of crime and actual crime.
He outlined some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Safer Neighbourhood model that has been adopted across London.
As safer neighbourhood teams are assigned to local government wards, the boundaries don't always make sense in policing terms as resources tend to be drawn away from town centres to residential areas.
This leaves many busy parts of London which straddle the boundaries of several wards and so don't currently benefit from a joined-up approach.
Richard Bingley of London First pointed out that the Team London Bridge area has some 28,000 employees working for 270 organisations and drew a comparison with the police resources allocated to the town of Faversham which has 14,000 residents.
There is currently no definitive model for business policing, which is something that this year's pilot project in four parts of the capital (London Bridge, Liverpool Street, Lime Street and Victoria) aims to address.
The project will address crime prevention, reporting, emergency planning and information sharing between private security guards and the police.
The pilot project has been informed by research in the four pilot areas led by Professor Martin Innes of Cardiff University.
He found that confidence in the police and local authority was lower in London Bridge than in the three other trial areas.
Professor Innes hopes that the establishment of a business policing team in London Bridge for six months this year will mean that confidence will rise by the time that further research is carried out at the end of the year.
Funding to introduce specialist policing for business districts beyond the scope of this pilot is inevitably a sticking point. The Met hopes to return some officers to frontline policing by freeing them up from desk jobs.
However there is not much prospect of new funding for extra officers which means that providing resources for business policing will mean taking resources from other parts of the police service.
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