Richmond’s police presence on buses could be slashed from 14 officers to four under Boris Johnson’s plans to shake up police on the transport network, critics fear.
Each borough has a Safer Transport Team (STT), funded by Transport for London, which primarily patrols on and around buses and provides cycle security marking.
Richmond’s current team of 25 officers consists of an inspector, three sergeants, seven constables and 14 PCSOs.
Staff are being consulted on a proposal to cut the borough’s team down to 17 officers: an inspector, two sergeants, 10 PCs and four PCSOs.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Richmond Councillor Stephen Knight said: “We want more not fewer people feeling safe and secure using local buses to get around.
“The presence of PCSOs from the borough’s STT contribute greatly to the current sense of security that passengers feel on board buses.
“Such a dramatic reduction in police patrols on our buses will almost certainly lead to passengers feeling less safe and to a rise in antisocial behaviour on our buses.”
But supporters of the shake-up said the issue was a minor one and although it would see fewer PCSOs, there will be a higher number of experienced constables.
Richmond Council’s cabinet member for safety and London Assembly Member Councillor Tony Arbour said: “It is a non-issue really.
“Travelling on buses is much safer than it used to be and Richmond is much safer. It is Boris’s policy to replace PCSOs with warranted constables.
“In Richmond there will be 14 additional police officers.”
The Mayor of London, who visited the borough this week, said: “Bus crime is down 40 per cent in the past six years and we have a very good transport network.
“If there are any problems on the transport network people are sure to tell us and we will sort it out.”