Hackney police station could be mothballed by cuts

Proposals to mothball the iconic Hackney Central police station have sparked concern.

The move has been proposed as part of the Met’s need to make half a billion pounds worth of savings by 2015.

There are three stations in the borough presently open 24 hours a day – more than in any other police force in the country.

The idea is to completely shut the Grade II listed building in Lower Clapton Road, which is not ‘fit for purpose’ and does not presently comply with disability access requirements.

Under the cost-cutting plans, the opening hours of Shoreditch police station, Shepherdess Walk, will be reduced to 40 a week and only Stoke Newington police station in the High Street would remain open constantly.

The Met claims they can increase police officer numbers on the streets from 23,000 to 25,000 by making similar savings and cutting senior police posts.

“We’ve got a lot of police stations, an awful lot, we’ve got more police stations and more office space per police officer than any other police force in the country,” said Hackney’s top cop, Ch Spt Matthew Horne.

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“I’m aware closing a 24/7 front counter can be controversial.

“People still think people need front counters and the other thing is people like a visible presence of police in their community, which I’m saying we can deliver and better, and the reality is bricks and mortar don’t actually do anything.”

He believes the ways people report crime have changed, with many using the phone and internet and arranging meetings with officers in their own home.

Additionally in April each of Hackney’s 19 wards will offer a four hour surgery contact window.

But MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott, said she is “very concerned”.

“Hackney is a high visibility police station at the heart of the borough,” she said.

“Sadly this closure is driven by financial concerns, but policing in Hackney is one of the biggest concerns of my constituents.

“When they need the police, people want to know that they will be there,” she added.

Cllr Ian Rathbone said it is not the first time the closure of Hackney has been proposed: “It’s been on the chopping block two or three times, but I think it’ll be a shame to close it because it’s obviously so convenient to so many people in our part of the borough,” he added.

Hackney Central ward councillors, Ben Hayhurst, Vincent Stops and Samantha Lloyd said the move was further evidence of Boris Johnson’s and the Tories drastic cuts to key services.

“As ward councillors we are seeking assurances from the police that residents will not be disadvantaged in their dealings with the police,” they said in a joint statement.

They want to encourage discussions with the police to see if any of the council’s public buildings can host a counter service to increase access to police for residents.

The Met’s senior team will take a decision on December 11, and the plans will be presented to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.

To let your views be known email hackneypolice@met.police.uk.