Police caught in West Hampstead stand off

�Police were caught up in a five-hour stand-off with a woman claiming to wield a knife and threatening to set her West Hampstead home on fire.

Neighbours were evacuated when the 48-year-old woman started throwing everything from her television to a lampshade out of her flat in Sherriff Road, according to witnesses. West Hampstead police said she smashed her windows and threatened to jump.

Councillor Don Williams was walking home from work when he came across the incident.

He said: “She was threatening to burn the building down. All the neighbours were standing around waiting and could not get in.

“The fire brigade was there just in case a fire was started.”

A neighbour, who lives in the flat above the woman, said everything seemed fine until she started playing loud music non-stop in the days leading up to the event. He believed the woman was a lawyer.

One eyewitness said there were as many as three police vans, two police cars, an ambulance and two fire engines at the scene. Part of the road was cordoned off as the stand-off unfolded.

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Officers from the territorial support group and police who specialise in scaling high buildings were called to the address at 6.45pm last Tuesday.

Cllr Williams said: “Police are rather a rare sight down there, apart from the safer neighbourhood teams.

‘‘But this was a full dose of policing which we have not had for I cannot remember how long.”

Despite claiming to have a knife and threatening to use it on herself, the 48-year-old eventually gave herself up.

A police spokeswoman said: “She was threatening to do a lot of things, including using the knife on herself or police.

“We weren’t sure what the best way was to get her down, but in the end she came willingly. She actually opened the door for us.”

The 48-year-old was arrested for criminal damage.