Police axed Hampstead police station to cut costs – yet pay £100 to change lightbulbs
06:00 13 March 2014
Crime chiefs are facing fresh calls to restore officers to Hampstead police station by slashing wasteful spending – after the Met admitted paying £100 just to change a light bulb.
Campaigners say Scotland Yard should cut costs by reducing the staggering sums it wastes on basic repairs and fittings, instead of closing the century-old police station in Rosslyn Hill and sacrificing safety.
They have accused the Met of presiding over a “procurement scandal” after being tipped off by frustrated sources within the police.
Jessica Learmond-Criqui, chairman of the Frognal and Fitzjohn’s Safer Neighbourhoods Panel, said three separate police officers confirmed that it costs £98 to change a sink plug and £300 for a light bulb under the Met’s bloated contracts.
“Hampstead police station need not have been shut at all,” she said.
“We were told that the station cost the Met £250,000 a year to run.
“What we were not told was that the procurement practices of the Met are such that a plug in a sink costs £98 to replace, a light bulb costs £300 to replace and toilets in cells cost £10,000 a piece to replace.
“Had the Met been husbanding its costs better we need not be suffering like this.”
Campaigners say police could return officers to Grade II-listed Hampstead police station for a fraction of the sums wasted on procurement.
The pleas come amid increased fears of serious crime following an armed raid on Hampstead’s Tesco branch in Heath Street two weeks ago. Police yesterday released CCTV stills of the suspected gunman.
Victoria Morgan, director of procurement operations for the Met, insisted that items such as bulbs and sink plugs do not “generally” cost the amounts suggested by Ms Learmond-Criqui’s police sources.
But when pressed, the Met admitted it does pay £26 to change a light bulb during a routine maintenance visit, and about £100 if the change is urgent. The true cost for installing a new plug was said to be £12.
Ms Learmond-Criqui challenged Boris Johnson’s crime chief Stephen Greenhalgh on the figures at a public meeting in Camden Town Hall last Thursday, which was held by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
The deputy mayor for policing admitted that the Met had agreed contracts that were “terrible value for money” and that many were signed without any kind of competitive tendering.
He said work was already being done that would “release around £10million of savings” to be ploughed back into policing.