Locals have 'given up' reporting crime after police station closures (2024)

Crime has soared in London after more than 100 local police stations were shut down - and people living and working in the areas left without one are furious about it, a MailOnline investigation has found.

It emerged this week that only 36 police stations remain open in the capital compared to the 160 that the city had in 2008 - a reduction of an astonishing 77%.

The cuts have doubled the distance an average Londoner has to travel to their nearest manned police help desk to around two miles - with researchers warning criminals were specifically targeting areas the Met has abandoned.

Among those closed, some have been turned into luxury flats, others remain vacant - and one was even taken over by gangsters to be used as a weed factory.

MailOnline visited the areas around a number of former police stations to find a consistent pattern of anecdotal accounts of an increase in crime - accompanied by a feeling of powerlessness in the face of this.

Locals have 'given up' reporting crime after police station closures (1)

Locals have 'given up' reporting crime after police station closures (2)

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Purley Police station in south London was an important hub right opposite the train station up until 2021 when it was developed into flats

Locals have 'given up' reporting crime after police station closures (3)

Locals have 'given up' reporting crime after police station closures (4)

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Streatham Police Station in south London is now boarded up and daubed in graffiti with cardboard patched over glass-less windows but in 2012 it was open and had information boards outside

Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found police station closures were linked to a 11 per cent increase in local assaults and murders, a doubling of response times and a reduction in the reporting of shoplifting and bike thefts.

But, if anything, anecdotal evidence we gathered from residents suggests that crime rates could be even higher - as many say they have simply given up reporting crime such is their dissatisfaction with the Met Police.

Typical are those living close to that police station that was used to grow cannabis - as much as £1 million worth it was estimated when it was uncovered 18 months ago - in Streatham, south London.

There Raja Luthra, 72, has run a jeweller for 50 years - but only felt the need to install remote-controlled metal gates at the front of his shop when the police station across the road shut down a decade ago.

The police assessment centre in Kennington, south west London is no longer open for the public despite once training Met police officers

He told us: 'It is the only way I can guarantee not getting robbed after the police station closed down.

'I used to be able to take lunch round the corner but not anymore. The whole area has become more dangerous and it got worse after the police left.'

Streatham Police Station is now boarded up and daubed in graffiti with cardboard patched over glass-less windows.

Mr Luthra went on: 'It sounds like something I made up but a few years ago there was a fire here.

'When there was an investigation they realised electricity was being illegally syphoned to the old police station to grow the cannabis plants and it started a fire. To think - a cannabis factory in an old police station.'

Media executive Rachel Mullin, 27, said: 'Crime is rising in the whole of London.' and added that she knew people who had been attacked

Because of a lack of police stations pub cleaner Katiuscia Hirconda, 39, said she is now frightened of phone snatching gangs carrying knives

Streatham-based bar worker Mike Steven, 20, said: 'Streatham is a high crime area and closing down the police station has made it worse.

'There is a lot of knife crime among young people but there is no police presence, because there's no police station.'

Dog owner Dunstan Farmer, 50, added:'There is no deterrent to committing crime in Streatham. It can be terrifying at night.

'The police station was even taken over and used as a cannabis factory. 'It only got found out by the fire brigade when there was an electrical fire!'

Norbury Police Station in south London, just 2 miles from Crystal Palace Football Club is now a Halal market with flats above bu tin 2015 it was a bustling police station serving the local community

Streatham police station abandoned and left to decay on the high street. Its closure has left locals fearing for their lives due to armed phone snatching gangs

Pub cleaner Katiuscia Hirconda, 39, told how she is frightened by phone snatching gangs carrying knives.

She said:'There is a lot of crime here.

'People get their phones stolen by people only bikes. And there are lots of people carrying knives. It can be very frightening.'

Grandmother Merrill Rennalls, 68, added: 'There is a lot stabbing of young people here, it's horrible and having no police station is no good.

'As a mother and grandmother I want there to be more activities for young people to do to keep them out of trouble.'

Web designer Niall McKenna, 40, said he had felt it more difficult to report crime since the police station was shut.

He said: Closing down the police station has certainly not helped to bring down crime in this area.

Raja Luthra (left) installed remote-controlled metal gates at the front of his shop when the police station shut down whilePeter Studnicki (right) wants to move because of the crime rates

Local resident Andrew Bird now believes the Streatham area is 'lawless' and the decision to close the stations is to blame for the rise in crime after seeing two stations close in ten years

'In Streatham you hardly ever see a police officer. And because of the lack of police presence gangs just run wild.

'I tried to report these two lads who were walking around carrying knives, but there was nowhere to report it. So, I had to go home and report it online.'

In Camberwell the police station, which lies between a popular Greek bakery and a Lebanese restaurant, remains unoccupied and visilbly uncared for.

There, IT consultant Clifford Kumar, 50, said: 'Closing down a police station sends out the signal to criminals that they have free rein, that it is a free for all.

'It makes the local people feel that the police don't care about them or the neighbourhood.

'I've seen people on bicycles riding around looking for phones to snatch. It's like they are circling, looking for their prey.'

Restaurant manager Didric Berlier, 30, said: 'To be honest I feel safer in Camberwell than I do in central London, like Leicester Square. But it is a lot safer than Brussels, where I come from.'

Read More The pockets of London 'abandoned to crime' - as 75 PER CENT of cop stations are shut since 2008

Those who do still have a police station seem to appreciate it.

Restaurant worker Bianca Mazznitin, 33: 'I live next to the police station in Elephant and Castle, and it gives me a real sense of security.

'It makes me feel safe and that the police are interested in the neighbourhood.'

Croydon was named London's most violent borough last month, with more than 10,000 violent incidents last year.

But the sprawling south London area has only one fully-functioning police station which is open to the public.

Bar Manager Peter Studnicki, 39, said he is planning on leaving London after 18 years because of the lack of police and rising violence.

Only on Monday his iPhone was taken from his pub The Jolly Sailor in Norwood, Croydon and a few weeks previously a group of youths threatened to smash it up.

Locals have 'given up' reporting crime after police station closures (8)

Locals have 'given up' reporting crime after police station closures (9)

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South Norwood Police Station in southeast London was turned into a sixth form college in 2012 leaving locals unable to go anywhere for help

Just five minutes away is the old South Norwood Police Station which in 2012 was turned into a sixth form college.

'I rang the police to report my phone stolen, after I saw a man walk into the pub on CCTV and take it from behind the bar,' Mr Stunicki said.

The London police stations you can STILL visit

Acton Police Station

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Charing Cross Police Station

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Colindale Police Station

Croydon Police Station

Dagenham Police Station

Edmonton Police Station

Forest Gate Police Station

Hammersmith Police Station

Harrow Police Station & Annexes

Hayes Police Station

Hounslow Police Station

Ilford Police Station

Islington Police Station

Kensington Police Station

Kentish Town Police Station

Kingston Police Station

Lavender Hill Police Station

Lewisham Police Station

Mitcham Police Station

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Romford Police Station

Stoke Newington Police Station

Sutton Police Station

Tottenham Police Station

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Walworth Police Station

Wembley Police Station

Wimbledon Police Station

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'I was told to ring my local police station. That is the problem though, there is not one.

'The only other response was to book an appointment. What is that going to do?

'This is not the safest area to begin with anyway and having your phone taken and being threatened with your pub getting smashed up is not nice.

'There is no one around to help or to speak to report these problems.

'So I am planning on leaving London now because there are other things as well, which are a problem such as the cost of living.'

Locals Andrew Bird and Ingi Piro also both believe the area is now 'lawless' and the decision to close the stations is to blame for the rise in crime.

Mr Bird, 52, said: 'I was in the centre of Croydon recently and it felt lawless really.

'Only a few weeks ago the Barclays bank was smashed up, I think in relation to the Palestinian protests.

'Then I remember seeing four big men- the size of doormen- walking with bags full of mobile phones. I don't know what they were doing, but I wondered if they were stolen.'

Mr Bird witnessed two police stations close to his home in Purley and Kenley close down in the last ten years and turned into flats- leaving his closest three miles away.

Mr Bird added: 'I have worked in the area for more than 20 years and fortunately, I have had no need for the police but I am protective of my mum and I do not like all the swearing you here. There has always been something going on in Croydon worth talking about but more recently it is feeling lawless.

'I remember the riots in 2011 and West Croydon was like a film set all on fire. You could sense something was not right in the air that day.'

In the nearby village of Kenley just over a mile away from Purley, criminals target the more affluent houses in burglaries.

'The police station closed down about ten years ago, I remember it. Now there are burglaries and the police come and take a note. But what do they do? I am not sure they do anything,' one local said.

Dog owner Dunstan Farmer and grandmother Merrill Rennalls both said crime in Streatham has got worse and described the area as terrifying

For Ms Piro, 69, who lives near the old South Norwood Police Station, she is anxious about crime in the area with the help of officers.

'It is good for the young people that there is an education centre, but what about me? How do I benefit from this? I remember when there were police stations all over London.

'Now there are so few, that is why the crime wave is rising all the time.'

A recent study by Dr Elisa Facchetti for the Institute of Fiscal Studies found in 2008 there were 160 police stations in London and now there are only 36.

This is a drop of 124 in 16 years leaving London hit the hardest by comparison across Britain.

The entrance to Streatham police station has been locked and is boarded up while weeds grow along the front steps

Both Boris Jonhson when he was mayor and Sadiq Khan struggled to resolve the knife crime pandemic in the capital.

'I won't be voting for anyone at this election,' Ms Piro added: 'What difference do they make to me?'

A few miles north, the former Kennington Police station, close to Waterloo station, is now the site of a Met Police administrative building with no public desk.

Some residents claim this makes crime in the area worse.

Media executive Rachel Mullin, 27, said: 'Crime is rising in the whole of London.

'I know people who have been attacked recently and had their phones stolen.

'It was in the middle of the day. It was terrifying.

'I can't see how closing down police stations is going to cut down on crime, surely it's only going to make it worse.'

Construction site manager John Macintosh, 28, added: 'Crime in London is getting worse and closing down police stations doesn't help.

'Who knows why people commit crime? Maybe it's because there are no jobs, or people think they can get away with it, or that they know nothing else apart from a life of crime.'

But not all feel at greater risk.

Restaurant worker Erin Ward, 22, said: 'To be honest I don't feel unsafe. I finish work late, always after midnight and walk home to Oval. My friends say I'm crazy but don't feel afraid.

'I don't think the number of police stations makes any difference to crime levels as the police react to crime, they don't prevent it.

'There should be more social initiatives to address the reasons people commit crime.'

Writer and illustrator Nicholas Allan, 67, was also less gloomy, saying: 'I have not noticed any difference in the level of crime in the area since the police station was closed down.'

Today the Met Police maintained that there was a 24-hour public counter service in every London borough.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman told MailOnline: 'Every London borough has a police front counter which is open 24 hours a day to the public.

'In addition, the public are able to contact us via telephone, social media and online at www.met.police.uk .'

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, oversees policing in the capital.

A spokesman for the Mayor told MailOnline: 'The Government has chronically underfunded the Met since 2010, cutting police funding by more than £1 billion. Since 2016, the Mayor has repeatedly tried to plug this huge funding gap, but is doing so with one hand tied behind his back.

'Against this challenging backdrop, the Mayor has substantially reduced the rate of police station closures begun under the previous mayor Boris Johnson, who closed 70 between 2010-2016.

'He has also maintained his commitment to a 24/7 police front counter in every borough and boosted officer numbers through record investment in policing. With an increased number of police officers and PCSOs now serving in London, the Mayor believes there now is a strong case to retain more police buildings in the capital.'

Locals have 'given up' reporting crime after police station closures (2024)


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