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Bonkers Blog April 2013

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12 April - Beware of pickpockets

Bexleyheath police stationAs most readers of this blog will know, my experience with Bexley police is not a good one. My personal view is that a force proven to have more interest in protecting their own bent officers and a dishonest council than upholding the law is a corrupt one. Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer’s time in Bexley saw too many examples of exactly that. For just one, take a look at the case of the playground attack by a policeman’s ‘friend’ and a judge’s condemnation of their dishonesty.

The fact that Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa had some of the worst offenders transferred to another borough didn’t impress me nearly as much as he seemed to think it should. I can sympathise with a Commander who walks into a hornet’s nest but his excuses for failing to catch the obscene blogger were laughable and when he played the race card to try to turn the argument his way it said all I needed to know about Bexley’s former borough commander.

I expect better of senior policemen especially for the £16 million Bexley council gives them each year.

At various council and police meetings Bexley commanders always tell us that Bexley is best in London for this or that but listen carefully and you learn that the borough does not compare well with similar areas elsewhere in the country - and you don’t have to go far to see how true that is.

PickpocketsLook at the cost of policing in Kent. Bexley people pay far more than those across the border in Dartford. They already finance Bexley police through their income tax and VAT, but also have to shell out £15,899,368 this year through their council tax, conveniently collected on the police's behalf by their friends in Bexley council.

Although Bexley's crime rate was 44% lower than Kent's in 2011-12, its householders will have to pay 61% more towards the police this year than householders in Kent. £228·10 for a Band D household, compared to £141·47 for Band D households just across the border in Dartford.

Policing is much more expensive in Bexley. Figures for 2011-12 show that the average cost of processing a crime in Bexley was £6,396 (†) - two and a half times the £2,418 cost of processing a crime in Kent. This is partly because Met. Police officers are much more generously rewarded, costing taxpayers an average of £112,204 per officer in salaries and pension costs in 2011-12, according to the Met. Police's own accounts.

However, it's not just a case of Bexley's police pocketing large sums of cash; the problem is exacerbated further by inefficiency. In 2011-12, it took 1,125·3 police employees (†) to handle just 12,164 crimes in Bexley. That gave them only 10·8 crimes per person to deal with in a year (or one crime every 34 days), making them the least efficient force in London.

In these times of austerity, perhaps we should expect Bexley police to work rather harder and take as little from Bexley residents as Kent’s do from Dartford. Not letting eight months elapse between identifying a suspect and paying him a visit might be a good start.

† Central costs/staff apportioned pro rata to the number of borough-based employees.


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