In the Media

Public will have to report crime at police stations and libraries

PUBLISHED September 4, 2012

Many will go in the capital, the Home Affairs Select Committee was told by Stephen Greenhalgh, the Deputy Mayor of London for Policing and Crime.

"Currently the 19th century police counters are not always right. It's tying up hundreds of officers that see very few members of the public and they're not particularly good environments.

"Could we find other ways to colocate with other public services or in supermarkets, libraries, other places."

Mr Greenhalgh said they have already reduced the running cost of the Met's real estate from £250m to £200m as part of his plan to realise underused assets and make the service more efficient.

He said overall Scotland Yard had to save as much as £538m by 2015 and that reducing its property portfolio was a way of cutting costs without losing front line officers.

In a "doomsday scenario" he hoped the force would not lose more than 500 officers out of its current strength of more than 31,000.

The cuts in London reflect a similar pattern across the country with 264 public counters expected to close by Chief Constables as they try to balance their budgets against a backdrop of steep spending cuts.

In some parts of the country, such as Essex, Surrey, Cumbria, Gwent and Kent, police forces have set up mobile police stations in car parks.

Forces across the country have to find £2.4 billion from their budgets and it is this which has made police stations vulnerable.

In addition to the closure of the counters another 179 buildings, which already have no public access will be sold off.

Paul McKeever, chairman police federation: "A great many police stations are closing down in London and all over the country. It's like lowering the flag of the criminal justice system in the community.

"But at the same time forces are facing spending cuts of 20 per cent and are struggling to make ends meet so they are having to look forward to innovative solutions.

"I look forward to discussing them with Stephen Greenhalgh in the next few weeks."