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Opening hours cut at Hampstead police station sparking fresh fears of closure

PUBLISHED: 14:00 07 April 2012

Hampstead Police Station campaign,pictured Nigel Steward & 'Jack' Cllr Linda Chung,Mary Tinegate,Stephen Stark with son Elijah 8yrs & Jonathan Bergman

Hampstead Police Station campaign,pictured Nigel Steward & 'Jack' Cllr Linda Chung,Mary Tinegate,Stephen Stark with son Elijah 8yrs & Jonathan Bergman

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Fresh fears have been sparked over the future of Hampstead Police Station after Camden's chief of police cut its opening hours.

Borough Commander John Sutherland said there needed to be an “honest conversation” over the continued use of the large historic building, which he says is “disproportionate” with the service it provides.

Starting this month, front desk opening hours have been slashed by 16 hours a week – a reduction of more than a quarter.

More than 18 months ago, the Grade II-listed building in Rosslyn Hill housed a crime prevention squad, forensic team and a schools unit, alongside local policing teams. Now only three under-strength community police teams remain.

A series of unscheduled closures – triggered by staff shortages – forced the issue of the police station’s future at a community forum on Wednesday last week.

Panel chairman William Wellbank said that Hampstead had been “victimised” in recent months with the closures and continued staff shortages.

Chief Supt Sutherland said: “We are not here dealing with a service used by a large number of people on a daily basis.

“The facts tell us that not many people actually visit Hampstead Police Station.

“I am not going to make you a promise I cannot keep.

“I don’t have any news to give you yet, but I do think there is an honest conversation that needs to be had about Hampstead Police Station: simple observations like how much it costs to keep the place heated and how much it costs the tax payer to keep it open for business.

“It’s disproportionate to the service we are offering.”

He said scaling back the front desk service will guarantee that officers will be able to work the reduced opening hours.

The station is among 900 properties being reviewed under the Metropolitan Police’s estate strategy.

The station narrowly survived a review in 2009, and an even earlier document obtained by the Ham & High showed that the Met had been in direct contact with estate agents about the possible sale of the buidling..

Hampstead Town Cllr Linda Chung said: “What does the future hold for this wonderful building?

“We should look at different ways of keeping the police station in use, with volunteers or sharing the building with other public services.

“What we really fear is the eventual non-protection of the police station. What we really do not want is the closure of this police station.”

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