Postal operators have always had an important social role, but post offices in London could soon take on a new crime-fighting role under proposals from Mayor Boris Johnson.
The Mayor said yesterday that his team is in talks with Post Office Ltd to potentially provide certain policing services via post offices in the UK capital.
London’s Metropolitan Police Service is currently among many public sector organisations in the UK coping with widespread public spending cuts.
Plans include shutting 65 of the 136 counters open to the public as London police stations are closed, with the Met looking to sell off real estate to cut its annual GBP 203m estate running costs by around GBP 60m a year.
The Mayor’s draft Police and Crime Plan, issued yesterday for consultation, suggests that London post offices could provide some of the customer outreach activities lost as the police force downsizes its public presence.
The Mayor’s plan suggests that crime prevention desks and bureaus could be located in post offices and other locations with a high footfall, such as council buildings and supermarkets. This could mean people being able to report crimes, produce identity documents, report lost property and carry out other simple policing transactions at London post offices.
Initial trials look set to start with the Post Office, however, and discussions with Post Office Ltd are already underway, and could lead to a full pilot somewhere in the capital this summer.
The draft Police and Crime Plan states that the Mayor expects some front counter services to be available in post offices by July 2013.
Johnson said yesterday: “In the current economic climate there is no denying that tough decisions will have to be made, but policing in the capital is changing and we must change with it.”
Post Office Ltd confirmed to Post&Parcel today that talks were ongoing with the Mayor’s office regarding the potential for a trial this summer.
The Post Office could not comment on the details of how a trial may look, or what kind of post offices would provide a policing presence.
The spokesperson said: “The Post Office has been exploring opportunities to support a number of forces with administration tasks. We are in discussions about running a pilot with the met police this summer but details are yet to be agreed.
“The Post Office already provide 170 different financial and government services/products serving 20m customers each week. 99.7% of people live within three miles of one of our 11,500 Post Office branches,” added the Post Office spokesperson.
The National Federation of SubPostmasters said yesterday that the London policing plans could make a “useful contribution” to the expansion of government service provision within post offices, “benefitting sub postmasters, the public and generating cost savings for government”.
Source: Post&Parcel/Post Office Ltd/London Mayor