Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey would reopen police counters if elected

Photo by Matt Brown.

Conservative Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey will reopen all police stations closed by Sadiq Khan if he’s elected in May.

The Mayor has closed 38 police stations since he took office in 2016, and plans to sell or drop the leases on 29 of these.

But only one – Sovereign Gate in Richmond – has been sold so far, and Mr Bailey said he’d buy new premises near the old station.

The Conservative assembly member says he wants to “make people safe, and make criminals feel like they are under pressure”.

Last year, the Met paused sales of police premises to review the impact of recruiting more officers on the strategy. 

But Deputy Police Commissioner Sir Stephen House said last month that the force plans to push ahead with sell offs, because officers can now “work remotely, in a much more mobile way”.

The Met’s approach has been greeted with concern – Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita has already announced plans to reopen London’s lost police stations.

But Mr Bailey told the Local Democracy Service that his approach to crime was different.

He said: “It isn’t just reopening police stations, isn’t the world wonderful – it’s about getting a record amount of police officers, and asking the police to do much more patrolling.

“It’s about getting more detectives as well. No one of those things is the answer, but all of them as a package is the answer.”

Speaking outside the closed doors of Holborn police station, he added: “At a time of rising crime, when you close stations like this it sends a message that the police are retreating.

“What I want to do is send a message that the police are coming back out into our public space, and coming back out into our communities.”

But Ms Benita said the Conservative candidate was “slow off the mark”, as she’s already announced the policy.

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Photo by Matt Brown.

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She said: “If more appropriate, I’d locate front desks in accessible public spaces like post offices and libraries.

“I’d also double the number of dedicated ward officers across the capital, with an ambition for every ward to have at least four officers by 2024.

“We need to get back to the days when our police were seen as a service and not a force.

Green London Assembly candidate Zack Polanski said a Conservative cannot be trusted on crime after the party “destroyed police budgets” over the last decade.

Mr Polanski said Green mayoral candidate Sian Berry’s work to highlight lost youth services is “even more important” than police station closures.

He said: “We need to invest in our youth – and not just the buildings but people, including community police, who can be there to help.”

And a spokesperson for Labour described Mr Bailey’s plans as a “staggering hypocrisy”.

She said: “More police station were closed by Boris Johnson than Sadiq – but all were forced to happen because of the huge Tory policing cuts.

“Sadiq has had to take difficult decisions in order to protect frontline officers.”

Independent candidate Rory Stewart was approached for comment.

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