Caroline Selman

Cllr Caroline Selman. Photograph: Hackney Council

Hackney’s crime chief says “unprecedented” government cuts are forcing tough choices on police trying to keep people safe, after news that the borough’s police will be merging with Tower Hamlets.

Today the Metropolitan Police announced that forces in Hackney and Tower Hamlets will become one Basic Command Unit (BCU) as part of a London-wide shake up to save £325 million by 2022.

Now Cllr Caroline Selman, Hackney’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, tells the Citizen the move shows how government police cuts are heaping pressure on law enforcement.

But she said the council will work to “minimise the impact” on residents and on tackling crime.

She said: “Amid unprecedented government cuts to the Metropolitan Police, which has seen Hackney lose 200 officers since 2010, the merger of Hackney and Tower Hamlets policing boroughs into a Basic Command Unit is a further example of the difficult decisions that are having to be made by the police to keep people safe.”

She added: “We will be working with the police to assist them in implementing the merger of Hackney and Tower Hamlets in a way that minimises the impact on Hackney residents and maintains the partnership working between the council, police and others that is so crucial in tackling crime in the borough.”

The merger comes after Hackney Council’s ‘Foot the Bill‘ campaign, calling on the Home Office to reverse cuts to the Met, which the council says have cost Hackney one in four police officers since 2010.

The Met said in a statement that it faces £325 million of savings by 2021/22, with the number of police officers falling to 30,000 this April.

The BCU model has been tried in two pilot schemes last year – one merging Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering, and another between Camden and Islington.

The Hackney-Tower Hamlets BCU will be led by a chief superintendent as BCU Commander, and is expected to be set up in the next 12 months.

Tower Hamlets has a slightly higher crime rate than Hackney, with 30,947 offences in 2016/17 to Hackney’s 30,446, though this might reflect Tower Hamlets having a larger population.

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