Only one police station will remain open to the public in each London Borough, and in Barnet’s case a 24-hour, seven-day a week counter service will continue to be available at Colindale police station in Graham Park Way.
But because the Colindale station is over an hour away from High Barnet by public transport, the Metropolitan Police say provision will be made for a “well-advertised community session” twice a week where High Barnet residents will be able to meet face-to-face with a dedicated ward police officer or a police community support officer.
In announcing the withdrawal of the counter service at High Barnet – which currently is only available from 12pm to 8pm Monday to Friday – the Metropolitan Police say the number of crimes being reported in person at police stations has fallen dramatically in recent years.
High Barnet had one of the lowest rates across London – in May 2017 less than one crime (0.8) was reported each day compared with rates of six or seven crimes a day being reported at Enfield Edmonton, Redbridge and Lambeth.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, confirmed that the 37 front desk closures would go ahead following a consultation period in which over 4,000 Londoners submitted their views.
He blamed the withdrawal of half of London’s front counters on government cuts to police funding and said the £8 million a year saving would help meet the cost of 140 police constables whose continued employment might otherwise have been at risk.
The cuts meant police numbers are falling across London and “drastic measures” had to be taken to prioritise public safety and keep as many police officers on the beat as possible.
By the end of the year, when the new arrangements should be in place, there will be two dedicated ward police officers and one police community support officer for High Barnet.
“By next summer these officers will have access to the most up-to-date mobile technology, allowing them to access and input information while on the beat that previously they could only do at a desk or in a police station.”
Because Colindale is over an hour away by public transport, there will be two – instead of one – community sessions every week where High Barnet residents can meet officers face to face more often.
Although no precise details have been given, the Metropolitan Police say these sessions will be “well-advertised” and in “well-used, high footfall locations, such as leisure centres and local authority buildings”.
“The combination of one 24/7 front counter in every borough, more dedicated ward officers in every neighbourhood, located closer to communities, new community sessions in every ward, every week – and two sessions each week for communities an hour away from their nearest police station – and a significantly improved online service will mean that Londoners will be able to contact the police in the way that suits them.”
A further £165 million might be raised by selling redundant and underused police buildings and the money would be reinvested to ensure frontline police were properly equipped.
High Barnet police station itself -- in High Street -- is one of the buildings earmarked for closure, but no decision has been made until the Metropolitan Police have decided where to house the police team of safer neighbourhood officers for the eastern half of the borough.
A new base must be within the High Barnet ward or no more than a 15-minute walk from its boundary.