July 24 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Squatters who have taken over Hampstead’s former police station have offered to “help old ladies to the shops” in an effort to replace the community officers who abandoned the building.
A group of 15 moved into the station’s annexe in Rosslyn Hill on Easter weekend, sparking fears of anti-social behaviour and all-night raves less than 12 months after the base was axed by the Mayor of London.
But the squatters have insisted neighbours have nothing to fear – and vowed to help the community just like the Safer Neighbourhoods Team police officers who occupied the site before them.
“We want to be part of the community,” said Martin Kozubski, 31, a Polish construction worker. “We have had a few ideas of how we could help people like the community police used to. We could help old ladies to the shops, so they feel more safe.”
Ecko, 28, a Lithuanian car washer and labourer, added: “We could help protect the area, offer similar security for Hampstead.
“This is not a party place. We’re going to protect the building from thieves and look after it.”
The squatters, who previously occupied the old Pizza Express building in Kentish Town Road, Kentish Town, say they hope to stay for a year because Hampstead is “very nice and clean”.
Water and electricity have been connected and work has begun on sprucing up the front garden, which they would like to fill with flowers and vegetables.
Police received reports after neighbours saw them sitting on an old sofa in the garden on Monday evening.
One neighbour, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said: “Instead of protecting us as they should be doing, the police have put us in danger. Who knows what these people are going to be doing.”
A mother whose family lives next door to the station, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said: “We don’t want raves there over the summer. It’s an issue of security.”
The Metropolitan Police Service will have to take legal action to reclaim a building that housed officers for 100 years until last June.
A spokesman for the Met said: “The station was closed last year and has been boarded and secured ever since. It is no longer an operational police building and has no impact on front line policing.
“We have instructed solicitors to begin the process to obtain possession through legal proceedings.
“The local neighbourhood officers are aware and will ensure extra attention to the area and any crime or disorder issues will receive an appropriate response.”