Let’s have the former police station back
02 July, 2020
Former Hampstead Police Station
• BORIS Johnson disposed of the former Hampstead Police Station (HPS) in 2013 direct to the Department for Education (DfE) for Abacus Belsize Free School under the misguided view that crime, and the need for police, were reducing.
Since then, when the building has remained empty, we have seen the results of cuts in police resources and felt the consequences of seeing no officers on the streets.
Violent and youth crime have increased, not to mention impending civil unrest due to fears for health, jobs, and the economy, further exacerbated by inequalities in society.
Camden has a surfeit of school places, including secular, which could easily accommodate the current Abacus 210 children. State schools struggle against lack of funding, and potential closure, yet the DfE continues to splash money on an unneeded school.
The DfE should do the honourable thing and gift the HPS back to the police service. This would also mean the property is retained in public ownership, rather than being potentially lost for development into luxury flats, the last thing that Hampstead needs.
We badly need to recognise that we can’t keep our streets safe without a decent police force. Most citizens see only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crime; we remain blind to the nastier aspects that the police see day to day.
We worry about vehicle theft, and anti-social behaviour, while the hidden evils of child abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking and slavery abound.
The one-time notion that police could best be housed in remote, centralised, and faceless silos has proved outdated.
The HPS could house some of the promised increases in police numbers. It could become a centre for police excellence. Cuts in resources have meant that the service has not kept pace with the scope and increasing complexity of crime, including fraud and cyber crime.
There must be better use of new technology and intelligence, which could be incorporated into modernisation of the building.
If you believe in the same vision, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(in personal capacity), NW3