‘New police unit can help borough’

Merger of Haringey and Enfield police teams won’t be ‘so unfair’, argues Inspector Chris Byrne

Inspector Chris Byrne

Inspector Chris Byrne works on the partnerships and youth engagement team at Enfield Police

You may have heard that a change is coming to the way in which local policing is organised throughout London.

Up until now Londoners have been used to thinking about policing in terms of their local borough – but boroughs vary in size, do things differently, have different issues, and are increasingly inconsistent and inflexible to police this way.

As from January 2019, the Metropolitan Police is moving away from that model and instead forming twelve Basic Command Units (BCU) across London. This means, in practical terms, that Enfield Police and Haringey Police will become one unit. Sadly we will not, as lots of people have joked, be called ‘MPS Hari- Enfield’! It’s going to be the rather more prosaic ‘North Area’.

Obviously, as a merged BCU, we will continue to deliver all of the core functions of policing that we do already. It’s actually more of a change in how resources are organised. However, I know from talking to residents that people clearly have questions about these changes, beginning with: “Why make a change at all?”

This is being done to improve our service in Enfield and Haringey by increasing the flexibility we have with personnel and resources. In times of increasing demand – and the police have never been in so much demand – this single command unit should make it easier for Enfield and Haringey police, who already work closely together, to support each other over borough lines at particularly busy times.

I’m often asked if it is a way to cut police officer numbers. The answer is categorically no. There will still be as many officers available to respond to calls across Enfield and Haringey and the commitment to keeping two dedicated neighbourhood officers and a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) for every single electoral ward will be maintained.

Something that Enfield Police is already doing very successfully will be rolled out to become the norm across Haringey too; officers who respond to a call will often take charge of that investigation from beginning to end, which helps to ensure victims’ continuity of service.

So what are the benefits Enfield residents can expect? We will be increasing the number of officers focusing on schools and youth work as an investment in preventing future youth violence, and we will slim down to one leadership team who will oversee the staffing across both boroughs. But we will still be organised into five strands of work; response, neighbourhoods, safeguarding, investigation, and a headquarters team that will support the four other areas.

It has taken a year of very intensive planning from the new North Area BCU commander Helen Millichap and the senior leadership teams in both boroughs, and it remains an undoubted fact that the police need to plan for a future with fewer resources, but we are confident that these changes in how we work can benefit the people of both Enfield and Haringey.