Residents refuse to sit quietly while Hampstead police station sold off

Campaigners in front of Hampstead Police Station. Picture: Polly Hancock

Campaigners in front of Hampstead Police Station. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

Whether for or (more likely) against the closure of their local police station, most residents and community figures in Hampstead seem to now accept that nothing can stop the Grade II-listed building being sold off.

But this sense of resignation does not mean campaigners are going to sit back quietly while it happens.

One staunch opponent of the move to strip the area of its police base and front counter service in Rosslyn Hill – a plan which the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) hopes will raise up to £30million – is Peter Burian, vice-chairman of the Hampstead Safer Neighbourhoods Panel.

His concerns are many. He has long been adamant that Hampstead needs this strong point of contact “like a lighthouse” – not least to help deter crime.

And this week he took issue with the suggestion that crime victims will no longer need to visit a police station – because officers will come to them instead.

Mr Burian raised the very reasonable worry that this could throw suspicion upon the victim. “When people see officers coming to their house, it brings up red flags,” he said. “People might think they have been up to something.”

The question of who exactly drew up the controversial station closure strategy was also playing on his mind this week.

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Mr Burian says he has it on good authority – from an “impeccable source” no less – that the brains behind MOPAC’s (i.e. Boris Johnson’s) policing shake-up are largely graduates with little to no experience of dealing with crime.

And he draws what, for Heathman, comes as a particularly worrying parallel. “I have heard that some of these policies are being written up at City Hall by 24-year-olds just out of university,” he said. “You have got to have experience – you just can’t get kids who have not done the job, who don’t know about it, sitting in an office dreaming up these ideas and theories about how to run the police.

“It’s like you getting someone who is a painter-decorator appointed as editor of the Ham&High.”

Perish the thought.