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Camden New Journal - By PAUL KEILTHY
Published: 31 January 2008
Cop shop plans under fire

DEBATE over the future of Camden’s police stations transformed a routine Town Hall committee meeting into a battleground on Tuesday.
In the firing line were the borough’s new police commander Chief Supt Dominic Clout and Camden’s representative on the Metropolitan Police Authority Richard Sumray. Attacks focused on the Met’s contentious asset management plan, which has reinforced long-term fears that the listed police station in Hampstead will soon be sold and has cast doubt over the future of the station in Kentish Town.
South End Green Association spokeswoman Pam Gilbey said even after a five-year review of the role of police stations, residents had no idea what the new plan might look like.
She said: “No police stations could be more centrally and conveniently located than Hampstead and Kentish Town. How can we be consulted when we don’t know what will replace what will be taken away?”
Ms Gilbey joined most speakers in praising the Safer Neighbourhoods initiative, the six-strong police teams in each ward which will get mini-front counters under the new plans.
But she warned that they “are being used as a cover-up for the loss of current police stations”.
The Heath and Hampstead Society’s Tony Hillier said his members would accept the police’s view on operational needs but there had been “a lack of clear thinking about what to do”.
His society’s proposals that part of the Hampstead station be sold to finance the refurbishment of the remainder had been “met with a blank wall”, he added.
Belsize Safer Neighbourhoods chairwoman Helen Djorkovic accused Met chiefs of attempting to disguise cuts and raise cash through the sale of Hampstead police station, which Ms Gilbey valued at £20 million.
She said: “It appears from our point of view that the case is a financial one, and yet the financial case has not been made.”
The overall scheme would probably see the construction of a warehouse-style central custody suite, with no access for the public, which would double as a patrol base.
Speaking for the MPA, which is behind the plans, former Mr Sumray ack­now­ledged that levels of protest in the borough were unique in London but insisted that no police stations would be withdrawn before alternative facilities were provided. He denied the changes were cuts.
Chief Supt Clout said: “It is my responsibility to provide first-class policing to the whole borough [and] I need the resources and accommodation to do the job. For me that is a good argument to concentrate resources into one custody suite and I completely support it.”
Residents have four weeks remaining to take part in a consultation exercise on police plans.

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