'Residents will be safer after closure of Hampstead police station,' claims police chief
PUBLISHED: 18:00 20 June 2013 | UPDATED: 18:02 20 June 2013
Camden's most senior police officer says residents will be safer following the closure of Hampstead police station, which shuts for good on Monday as part of London-wide police cutbacks.
Borough commander Ch Supt Ben-Julian “BJ” Harrington described the station as a “waste of public money” and believes public safety will be strengthened by the closure, part of Boris Johnson’s drastic shake-up of London policing.
Speaking ahead of the closure next week, Ch Supt Harrington told the Ham&High: “It was a waste of public money because there were times when officers [working at the station] would have one or two calls in eight hours.
“Places like Hampstead were a reassurance – it was there but it wasn’t any value to the way we police the community.
“In terms of safety I don’t think the station closures will have any [negative] impact at all. Safety will be strengthened because we have made the response teams have a more dedicated role.”
On Monday, the Metropolitan Police rolls out its new local policing model in 16 boroughs, including Camden, which Ch Supt Harrington described as “the most fundamental change to policing in London” to have been introduced in his career.
Under the new model, in addition to Hampstead station, West Hampstead police station, in Fortune Green Road, and Albany Street police station, in Regent’s Park, will close.
However, the West Hampstead station will be retained for operational needs, while Kentish Town police station, in Holmes Road, will provide the borough’s only 24-hour front counter service.
Campaigners in Hampstead had hoped to retain a police contact point in the Hampstead station but this has been ruled out by City Hall, which is looking at setting up a contact point in the Royal Free Hospital instead.
Peter Burian, vice chairman of the Hampstead Safer Neighbourhoods Panel, said he was disappointed that a contact point to replace Hampstead station had not been set up in time for the station’s closure.
He added: “I think the whole panel feels let down because we were assured by the Mayor there would be no closure of the station until another contact point was settled.
“I think the police flag should be flying high in Hampstead. There’s no point having a flag flying high on an empty lighthouse [like the police station] but we need a contact point in central Hampstead.”
Contact points will be open at five sites across Camden for an hour every Wednesday and Thursday evening, between 7pm and 8pm, and every Saturday afternoon, between 2pm and 3pm.
There are contact points at safer neighbourhood team bases in Camden Town, Swiss Cottage, West Hampstead and Kentish Town.
Contact points are locations for non-urgent, face-to-face contact between the public and local police.
From Monday, Camden’s 18 wards will be divided into three neighbourhood policing areas - north, central and south - which will be served by an extra 100 neighbourhood officers.
In Barnet, Golders Green police station, in Finchley Road, will close on Monday and replaced by a contact point in the SNT base, in Golders Green Road.