Ham&High vows to find £30 to keep police in Hampstead after Scotland Yard refuses to pay

Ham&High editor Geoff Martin offers �30 to Sgt Ryan Keating outside the Old Hampstead Town Hall

Ham&High editor Geoff Martin offers �30 to Sgt Ryan Keating outside the Old Hampstead Town Hall - Credit: Archant

The Ham&High is launching an important campaign this week – to raise the princely sum of £30 to keep a police presence in Hampstead.

It may sound like a paltry amount, but that is the figure needed to fund a new police base in the area. The reason? Because Scotland Yard has barred officers from spending £30 per week out of the borough’s policing budget to use a charity’s premises.

The Met is concerned about setting a London-wide precedent, despite the fact that the money was already allocated and the deal ready to be inked.

Its decision comes as the sale of Hampstead Police Station is expected to raise a rumoured £30million, after it was closed in June.

The £30 fee would cover the cost of renting a room at the Old Hampstead Town Hall from arts charity Wac Arts, for a new “contact point” to replace the station.

Cllr Chris Knight, who represents Hampstead Town ward, said: “I’m appalled that the Met are not going to put their hands in their pockets after stripping Hampstead of its police station. We need the contact points and the old town hall is perfect for residents. The Met should be ashamed of themselves.”

He added: “I’m quite sure community groups would contribute towards the cost and all praise to the Ham&High for getting it started.”

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Scotland Yard’s decree was issued after Hampstead’s officers had already spent months scouting for a suitable location for the contact point. The old town hall in Haverstock Hill was identified as the perfect option, having received the most visitors and best feedback after a trial.

Sgt Ryan Keating, who leads both the Hampstead Town and Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhoods Teams, said: “I was told £10 an hour would not be an issue. But when the old town hall was confirmed as the preferred choice, the borough commander was told we could not pay out because it would set a Met-wide precedent.”

The contact point would be manned three times a week, for an hour at a time, giving residents the chance to speak to officers.

The Ham&High has offered to raise the necessary funds from the community to keep a police presence in Hampstead. The paper will pay for the first month – and is happy to cover any future shortfall.

“We won’t see them short of their rent,” said Ham&High editor Geoff Martin.

The annual bill would come to £1,560. If the Met was forced to pay a similar sum at five contact points in all 32 boroughs, the yearly cost would be just under £250,000.

The Ham&High understands the offer is being considered by Camden Police.

The Met said the decision came from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.