Police station sold for £7.6m taken over by squatters

Hackney Police Station in Lower Clapton.

Hackney Police Station in Lower Clapton. - Credit: Archant

An abandoned police station sold for £7.6 million for use as a free school has been taken over by squatters.

The Hackney Central police station in Lower Clapton Road closed in July last year, and was left derelict until it was bought by the government for more than £7m and handed to the Olive School, a free school in Stoke Newington.

But dozens of squatters have entered the boarded-up building. The occupiers have put up a sign outside the abandoned building stating it is “under occupation”.

One squatter said: “As long-term Hackney residents, we have been forced to occupy this disused building because we have little if no access to affordable housing in Hackney. If anybody were to speak to us, they would quickly see that we are not criminals. We just need somewhere to live.”

The Muslim-led Olive School is currently based in temporary accommodation in Stoke Newington, and hope to move to the Grade II-listed building soon.

The Education Funding Agency, a government body under the umbrella of the Department for Education which seeks out sights for free schools, bought the property in March. The station was closed last year as part of controversial cuts.

While squatting inside residential properties is a crime, doing so in non-residential buildings is classed as a civil matter.

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Police have been told about the squatters, but a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Hackney police station is no longer part of the MPS Estate.”

Hackney Central faced a similar incident last year, when squatters took up residence in a listed mansion in Mare Street, holding language classes and mediation sessions. The squatters were evicted after three months.

As the station is not residential, the Olive School must apply for a possession order within 28 days of discovering the squatters in the hope of getting a court order for their removal.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are aware of squatters at this site and are taking the appropriate action.”