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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 14:44 GMT
Local police unit scheme extended
Ken Livingstone, Bill Bratton
Mr Bratton will exchange ideas with his UK colleagues
Every neighbourhood in London is to get its own dedicated police team by April 2007, mayor Ken Livingstone has said.

The units, comprising a sergeant, two PCs and three community support officers, can currently be found in 285 out of the capital's 624 wards.

The announcement was made as the Los Angeles police chief who pioneered a "zero tolerance" policy toured the St Pancras and Somers Town area.

Bill Bratton was shown how the Safer Neighbourhoods scheme operated.

As New York Police Commissioner between 1994 and 1996, Mr Bratton introduced a clampdown on minor offences and oversaw a fall in overall crime.

He is one of a number of US police chiefs who have visited the UK to swap ideas with their British counterparts on combating terrorism and other offences.

Mr Bratton said it was essential that police had "good relationships" with the local communities.

Council tax rise

Mr Livingstone had promised the teams would be in every neighbourhood by the end of his second term in June 2008, but this will now take place ahead of schedule.

Wherever we put safer neighbourhood teams there are two clear messages
Sir Ian Blair, Met Police Commissioner

However, the new units will begin with only four officers - not six, as previously promised.

The expansion would cost a typical London household an extra 10 in council tax a year.

Mr Livingstone said the plan, which is subject to final ratification by the Police Authority, would equate to an extra 5.5% rise on the mayor's portion of council tax bills.

This was in addition to an 8% increase to pay for the 2012 Olympic Games.

'Eyes and ears'

"The largest event in neighbourhood or community policing in 30 to 40 years is going to happen in London next year," Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said.

He said wards where the units had already been working had seen reductions in crime of around 20% since their introduction in 2004.

"Wherever we put safer neighbourhood teams there are two clear messages," Sir Ian added.

"One is that there is less crime and anti-social behaviour and, secondly, people believe there is less crime and anti-social behaviour."

He said the initiative was "not separate" from the fight against terrorism as the teams would be the "eyes and ears" on the ground.

"National security depends on neighbourhood security," he said.




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