Scotland Yard to close half of London's police stations and investigate more crimes online

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Scotland Yard is to investigate more crimes on the telephone and online while closing half the capital’s police stations in a bid to streamline the force and save cash.

The force is to launch a new telephone and digital investigation unit which will investigate crimes such as burglary where police do not need to attend a crime scene.

The force is to close police stations across London but keep at least one 24/7 front counter in each borough.

The move comes as the force has slashed costs by £600 million in recent years and now faces further cutbacks of at least £400 million. 

Senior officers say few people visit police stations today to report offences and most are reported over the phone. 

They are in the process of equipping all front line officers with portable tablets to create a more mobile workforce which can stay on the street longer.

Police say more people are happy to have crimes dealt with over the phone and say that if there is evidence to support an investigation or a victim needs an officer, for instance if they are vulnerable, police will always visit.

The new strategy is set out in a consultation document on public access and engagement published by Mayor Sadiq Khan today. 

The Met says it deals with about 20 per cent of crime either on the phone or online. In Merseyside police deal with 40 per cent of crimes on the phone.

The new strategy states that some crimes such as domestic and sexual abuse and hate crime will always involve a visit from a police officer.

Victims of crime will be able to provide statements and other information remotely, without having to wait for officers to attend.  

Officers who man the telephone investigation unit, based in west London, will be moved from desk jobs, not front line posts, the Met said.

Police are also encouraging people to report offences such as road traffic collisions or stalking online through Twitter, for example.

The Mayor says that closing stations and front counters will put an extra £10 million a year — equivalent to the cost of 170 police constables — into front-line policing. 

The sale of buildings will raise £170 million to fund new technology for officers and extra officers on neighbourhood wards.   

Over the past 10 years the number of crimes reported at police stations and front counters has fallen by three quarters. 

Today just eight per cent of all crimes are reported at front counters, compared to 22 per cent in 2006. 

Among stations earmarked for closure are Notting Hill, Dagenham, Bexleyheath, Uxbridge and Wimbledon. 

Mr Khan said today: “The huge Government cuts to the Met have left us with no choice but to take drastic action to protect the front line of policing. 

“My top priority is keeping Londoners safe, and every pound saved by closing a front counter is a pound of savings that we do not have to find by reducing the front line. 

“The Government urgently needs to properly fund the Met police so that they can do their job and keep Londoners safe.”

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