Cuts could cause police to set up services in synagogues

“I thought I was going to make up a minyan but it was an identity parade”

“I thought I was going to make up a minyan but it was an identity parade”

If you are the victim of crime, you might one day have to go to your synagogue to report it.

The Metropolitan Police, forced to make cuts, is proposing to close public counters in many stations and set up reporting desks elsewhere, which could include community centres and places of worship.

The Met says it is replacing 65 “under-used front counters” across London with more than 200 new contact points in existing police premises, such as safer neighbourhood offices, or other public places.

But there is concern over plans for Golders Green police station, which faces closure. (Hendon police station was shut several years ago.)

The suggested alternative of having a public counter open on Fridays and Saturdays in the safer neighbourhood team office in Golders Green Road has already come under attack.

Andrew Dismore, the Greater London Assembly member for Barnet, was quoted in The Times as saying: “It’s hardly the most convenient days for Jewish people. It shows a degree of cultural insensitivity.”

Barnet councillor, Lord Palmer of Child’s Hill, called the plans “a disgraceful move purely to save money, and nothing to do with safety or cutting down crime”.

He added: “The idea that people will only want to report crime at a ‘police station’ on Fridays and Saturdays is bizarre. If it was announced on April 1 or Purim, one would suspect a hoax.

“Friday/Saturday reporting is not helpful to Jewish or indeed Muslim communities, for all the obvious reasons.”

Chief Inspector Simon Causer of Barnet Police said the use of places of worship and other public buildings were “considerations”. But he stressed that proposed locations were “not set in stone. There will be a full public consultation on front counters. We want to be where the public want to see us.”

Last updated: 5:45pm, December 13 2012