Police car
Assembly member Sian Berry wants mayor Sadiq Khan to take action to make it easier for police officers to live in the areas they serve (Photo: Ken via CC BY-NC 2.0)

None of Greenwich borough’s police officers actually live in the area they serve, a report from London Assembly member Sian Berry has revealed.

The Green Party co-leader’s research found that only 52% of Greenwich’s police officers live in Greater London – with none at all living in the borough.

Neighbouring Lewisham has just 36% living outside London – the lowest proportion in the capital – with 25 officers living in the borough. In Bexley, closer to Kent, 62% live outside London, but 81 live within the borough’s borders.

Berry, who last looked at the topic in a report two years ago, is calling on London mayor Sadiq Khan to work with boroughs to ensure there are homes for emergency service workers in the capital. A report by Labour peer Lord Harris in 2016 into London’s capability to deal with terror attacks also said housing for police officers should be looked at.

She said: “Police officers are suffering from the blight of inflated housing costs like the rest of us, but for them to be most effective at their jobs they need to have a real connection to the diverse communities they serve.

“I said this two years ago when I last looked into where our police officers live – but nothing has changed. I’m disappointed the mayor has not managed to help our officers, by any measure, to access housing they can actually afford.

“As the Harris report recommended, the Mayor should step in to make sure people who start their careers working in our emergency services can access housing they can afford, and he should also give officers incentives to stay in London when their family circumstances and housing needs change.”

Sian Berry map
Greenwich is one of two boroughs without police officers who actually live there

‘Hugely complex crisis’

Across London, just nine per cent of police officers live in the boroughs they work in – a two percentage point increase on 2014. Half of all officers live in the capital, up from 48% four years ago.

There are many anecdotal reports of officers being encouraged not to live in the areas where they work to protect their safety, but Berry’s research shows the numbers vary widely across the capital – with 144 Croydon officers living in that borough.

A City Hall spokesperson told 853: “London’s housing crisis is hugely complex and has been decades in the making. It has a real impact on all Londoners including key public sector workers – not just police officers, but paramedics, nurses, care workers and transport staff too.

“Just this week Sadiq announced the biggest council homebuilding programme London has seen for many years, which will see a five-fold increase in the number of new council homes being built.”

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