Fears rekindled over future of Hampstead police station
Our revelation that a new home is being sought for two Safer Neighbourhood Teams will inevitably rekindle fears that Hampstead s amply-proportioned and perfectly-situated police station is to be sold to the highest bidder. In advance of any public consult
Our revelation that a new home is being sought for two Safer Neighbourhood Teams will inevitably rekindle fears that Hampstead's amply-proportioned and perfectly-situated police station is to be sold to the highest bidder.
In advance of any public consultation on this most contentious of issues, a new SNT office with 1,500 square feet of space in Perrins Court has been quietly earmarked for rental, to accommodate the teams serving Hampstead, and Frognal and Fitzjohn's.
The location is described in the sales brochure as a 'quiet pedestrianised street linking Hampstead High Street with Heath Street' but more to the point is that it will cost the police more than £1,000 a week (well in excess of £50,000 a year) in rent, rates and other charges. This wouldn't make much sense unless there was to be a big pay-off further down the line.
It may well be that an argument could be made for selling the Rosslyn Hill police station and putting the teams it houses into a smaller unit. That deserves to be debated openly, but ever since we revealed two years ago that there was a plan afoot to dispose of the station, an alarming degree of secrecy has surrounded police intentions.
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This was highlighted in January last year when emails between Camden Police and the Met's property services department, obtained through the Freedom of Information act, clearly showed that detailed discussions about the future of the station were underway despite public assurances that no plans had been made.
In one telling email, Stuart Banks of the Met's assets team asked Camden's police business manager to make a case for disposing of Hampstead Police Station (''age of building, empty and unusable space, poor condition, design not fit for purpose - all the usual stuff'').
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Even then a tangled web of intrigue, worthy of a Sherlock Holmes investigation, was being spun around the station's future. But there is one elementary point that the Met and Camden police should now consider.
Last week a judge ruled that the sale of Alexandra Palace was illegal because the Charity Commission had not provided sufficient information to enable interested parties to make meaningful responses during the consultation process.
Where the future of Hampstead Police Station is concerned, the Met Police appears to be in great danger of making the same mistake.