No Highgate base for community police
Ben McPartland COMMUNITY bobbies are still waiting for a base in Highgate, nearly three years after they were first recruited. Highgate's two Safer Neighbourhoods Teams – based in Haringey and Camden – were launched in spring 2006, but they are no nearer
COMMUNITY bobbies are still waiting for a base in Highgate, nearly three years after they were first recruited.
Highgate's two Safer Neighbourhoods Teams - based in Haringey and Camden - were launched in spring 2006, but they are no nearer having a permanent base in the ward they patrol.
This is unlike most other Safer Neighbourhoods Teams, many of which have been moved out of police stations and into smaller local bases to engage with the community to provide a local presence.
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Two years ago the Met identified a possible base for Camden's Highgate team, but the move has seemingly stalled over refurbishment plans.
Sgt Jeff Williams, who is based at Kentish Town police station, is still in the dark over when his team can move in.
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"To be honest I don't know what is happening," he said. "We have a place, the deal has been done with the council. We identified it two years ago.
"They are all done to a particular format. We have seen the plans and suggested some changes which were discounted but that was a long time ago.
"The only thing I can think of is that the current state of the economy means they do not have the funds to do it." The team is due to move into 105 Highgate Road, but the Ham&High understands that after two years of negotiations with the premises's owner - Camden Council - talks have yet to be concluded.
It is a similar story in Haringey's side of Highgate, where Sgt Leon Christodolou's team is still based at Crouch End.
He said: "It's not going to change now. We were looking for a base because it was something the residents wanted and something the Met were eager to do. But because we are not currently based in a police station we are not a priority for the Met.
"We are seen as being based in the community even though it is not actually in Highgate. I think financially it is not going to happen now anyway."
In November 2006, MP Lynne Featherstone started a campaign to reopen Highgate police station in Archway Road as a base for the Safer Neighbourhood Teams.
Despite huge opposition, the police station was closed to the public in 1998 and has since been home to a specialist child protection team.
The move to reopen the station won support from residents and community groups but has never received the green light.
A Camden police spokeswoman said the Met was continuing to negotiate with the council over the property.
But a Camden Council spokeswoman told the Ham&High this week the deal has been done with the police to take over 105 Highgate Road.
"We do own the property and we have been in negotiations for a while, but the deal has just been completed," she said.