Sunday, 23 January 2022

Sadiq Khan to shut 50 per cent of police station front counters

LONDON: Sadiq Khan is planning to close half of London’s remaining 73 police station front counters, it emerged on Thursday.

The Mayor’s officials are drawing up a blueprint to keep just one 24-hour police station open to the public in every borough.

Four additional front counters would be retained across central London – including a new one at Paddington Green — that would open during office hours.

The Met Police and Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime have been looking at police station closures for more than six months.

Leaked emails seen by the Standard show that sites have already been identified.

The Mayor’s staff has even looked into conducting polling on how best to sell the idea of closing police stations to the public.

The Met has already made £600 million in government cuts since 2010 and faces finding another £400 million of savings by 2021.

When Boris Johnson cut police station front counters in 2013, Mr Khan criticised the move and suggested Londoners could be forced to report crime at police “contact points” in McDonald’s restaurants.

Mr Khan’s plans include an increase in the locations where neighbourhood officers can meet residents in informal settings such as cafés, supermarkets and libraries.

But they will remain controversial as many experts feel that victims of crime should be able to report them, and seek advice, privately and locally.

Met Police chief Cressida Dick appeared to confirm the move to the London Assembly yesterday, saying: “We will be reducing the number of police stations, yes”.

Mr Khan confirmed the plans, which he blamed on central government cuts to the Metropolitan Police.

He said: “The reality is this – if the Government proceeds with its cuts we will have to close half the police stations in London, which could lead to each borough having only one 24-hour, seven-days-a-week, police station open to the public. The busiest boroughs may have another one.”

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