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Cuts to neighbourhood policing in Three Rivers
The number of neighbourhood police officers on patrol in Three Rivers will be slashed by almost a third in just over a week.
Changes to the way neighbourhood policing is carried out due to be implemented on April 1, will see the district lose five full time police officers and the equivalent of two and a half PCSOs.
Policing in the district will also be centralised into three "neighbourhood areas" consisting of Abbots Langley & Chorleywood, Rickmansworth & Croxley Green and Oxhey.
County-wide, the number of neighbourhood officers is actually increasing by one sergeant and six PCs however the low crime rate in Three Rivers means officers will be drafted into Broxbourne, Dacorum, Stevenage and Welwyn and Hatfield.
The move prompted a warning from politicians that it could have a dramatic effect on how residents feel about their own safety.
Lib Dem councillor for Abbots Langley Sara Bedford said: "The loss of almost a third of current police officers from the Three Rivers neighbourhood team is certain to change how residents feel about the safety of their local community.
"The visibility of the police is one of the main factors mentioned by residents as affecting how safe they feel.
"Doubling the size of the Abbots Langley area to include Chorleywood and Sarratt seems strange, and it is difficult to understand why two officers are being removed from the South Oxhey police station."
News of the move comes just two weeks after Three Rivers intervention officers were relocated back to Rickmansworth having been based in Watford since the closure of the town’s police station in February 2011.
And in a letter to Three Rivers District Councillors, Chief Inspector Catherine Akehurst stressed that: "Neighbourhood Policing is central to reducing crime, catching criminals and keeping people safe the ‘Herts Way’."
The move will also introduce sergeant-led teams giving a greater focus on PCs tackling criminals rather than spending time on admin and bureaucracy.
A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said: "Safer neighbourhood policing remains a bedrock of the Hertfordshire policing style, and from April 1 there will be new larger teams that can be brigaded together if required to deal with larger problems.
"As part of the exercise Hertfordshire Constabulary have looked at the allocation of officers across the county that was first set nearly ten years ago.
"There has been some adjustment to team levels to reflect changes in demand.
"In Three Rivers the safer neighbourhood establishment will reduce by five officers - in part reflecting the facts that crime in the district has fallen by 20% this policing year, and Three Rivers has, by far, the lowest crime levels of all districts in Hertfordshire.
"Safer neighbourhood teams are just part of the larger team of officers who look after Three Rivers - for example the local crime investigation teams and the emergency intervention team which recently rebased back into the district."