Most London police stations closed to public two years ago still haven't been sold
PUBLISHED: 09:59 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:59 03 October 2019
Only three of the 29 London police stations due to be "disposed of" to raise funds after closing to the public two years ago have been sold, the Gazette can reveal.
Scotland Yard said this week the other 26 haven't yet been offloaded because its estates strategy is being reviewed after Boris Johnson promised to recruit 20,000 officers.
But the Prime Minister's pledge was only made at the end of July this year - 21 months after Sadiq Khan announced the plans to close and sell-off the stations.
The mayor of London said in November 2017 that 38 of the 73 police station front desks would shut to save £8million in the face of crippling government cuts. Of those, 29 were to be "disposed of" or not have their leases renewed.
But two years on, a Freedom of Information request by this newspaper found only Sovereign Gate in Richmond had been sold, while leases at Fulham and Wood Green stations have ended.
The other 26 are still in use for back office operations. Asked why they had not yet been sold, the Met said it was reviewing its estates strategy in light of Mr Johnson's announcement.
Further details cannot be provided until the Met knows how many officers it will be getting, and in what departments they would work.
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"Both these aspects could impact the exact requirements for the size of the estate," they said.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: "A review of the Met's entire estate is underway in order to look at the long-term plans for police stations and the potential impact from an increase in officer numbers.
"But we are yet to learn how many officers London will get as part of the government's pledge.
"This delay and lack of clarity is preventing the Met and Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime from effectively planning next year's budget and it is jeopardising the successful and timely delivery of more police officers for London. The mayor has written to the home secretary and has been clear ministers must clarify urgently how many more officers it will give the capital."
Hackney was left with only one front desk at Stoke Newington after the closure of Shoreditch, which was one of dozens of stations that received only a handful of crime reports at the desk each day.
Islington was also left with just one front desk in Tolpuddle Street after the closure of Holloway Police Station.
Police stations in Barnet, Holborn, Hornsey and Kilburn were also shut, though only Barnet and Hornsey were earmarked for sale.
By next year, the Met will have had to cut £1bn from its annual budget in a decade. The closure of the front desks and sale of "expensive to run" stations had been expected to claw back £170m.