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May 11 2012

Gareth Says… Save Our Cells

Following the news that the custody suite in the borough is faxing the axe local MP Gareth Thomas has launched a campaign to save Harrow’s police cells.

The Metropolitan Police are planning to close Harrow’s only custody suite, which currently contains 13 cells, in mid September. Police officers will then have to transport any person arrested for an offence in Harrow to another out of borough police station; most likely Wembley or Kilburn.

This is expected to have two clear consequences:

Firstly, a huge amount of police officer time will be spent acting as a taxi service for criminals rather than tackling crime. Every prisoner arrested in Harrow who has to be transported requires two police officers to accompany them – more if they are violent.

About 5,000 individuals are held in Harrow’s cells each year so tens of thousands of officer hours could be spent transporting prisoners from Harrow to cells in a neighbouring borough.

Secondly, CID officers from Harrow will spend more of their time working outside Harrow. Past examples have suggested that where cells have closed CID officers are soon moved to where new custody suites are located.

This is of particular concern given that Metropolitan Police have also said that they are establishing office space for Harrow CID officers at Wembley Police Station where a joint case progression unit will be established.

Gareth Thomas MP said: “Proposals to close custody cells in Harrow represents a significant cut to local policing. The move simply risks leaving Harrow with less resources and capacity to combat crime. Harrow’s police officers shouldn’t have their time wasted taxiing criminals around, they should be tackling crime in our community. I have launched a petition to ‘Save Our Cells’ which I am encouraging all residents, community groups and businesses to sign up to and send a clear message to the Metropolitan Police Authority to think again. There are also tough questions for the Tory-led Government to answer. Since May 2010 David Cameron has presided over plans for a 20% cut to the policing budget, in Harrow as a consequence we have witnessed: the axing of the Harrow Magistrates Court, the closure of Wealdstone Police Station and a real squeeze on officer numbers on the beat.”

Gareth will be outside South Harrow Police Station in Northolt Road, South Harrow, on Saturday 12 May, 2012 with Navin Shah, handing out leaflets and seeking signatures for a petition.

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