THE Mayor of London’s policing chief has defended plans to close a Bexley police station.

Deputy mayor for policing Stephen Greenhalgh said front counters like Belvedere are an outdated way for members of the public to report crimes at a public meeting on January 29.

Around 150 residents, councillors and police representatives gathered at Bexleyheath Civic Offices to hear a presentation and make their views known on Mayor Boris Johnson’s Police and Crime Plan.

As part of the proposals Belvedere will close and Marlowe House in Sidcup will be open reduced hours leaving Bexley police headquarters in Bexleyheath as the only 24-hour front counter in the borough.

Mr Greenhalgh said: “Obviously this is tough.

“When we talk about access we are not interested in recreating the Victorian front counter.

“We are looking for new ways of providing public contact with the police and we are very keen to work with the council and other interested parties to see how we can make that work for Bexley.”

Mayor of London Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) statistics claim of the average 2,000 crimes reported in London each day, fewer than 50 are at front counters overnight.

Mr Greenhalgh added: “Some of the front counter visits are tying up officers for very few members of the public.

“Belvedere is fewer than 40 visits per day so we need to get the balance right.”

The meeting heard despite £500m MET-wide cuts, Bexley would have 16 more regular officers by 2015 – 360 up from 344 – and nearly 50 more in Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs): 110 up from 61.

Barnehurst SNT panel member Glen Aldrich said: “We have got a sergeant split between two wards.

“It isn’t good what is going to happen in 2015.

“I really don’t want to be a neighbourhood contact anymore because I have got no back up.

“What are you going to do about it?”

Mr Greenhalgh responded: “There will be 50 extra officers in Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

“It starts now.”

Have your say on London’s Police and Crime Plan before March 6 by visiting