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Met Police ‘has nothing left to sell’ after making £1bn in property deals

The sell-off has left Scotland Yard with just 137 ‘operational’ buildings and 36 ‘residential’ buildings, according to the data.

The Met has been stretched to ‘breaking point’, according to one rank-and-file leader (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
The Met has been stretched to ‘breaking point’, according to one rank-and-file leader (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Britain’s largest police force now owns fewer than 200 buildings having sold more than £1 billion in property to fight funding cuts, figures show.

The Metropolitan Police has “sold the Crown Jewels” and “run out of things to sell” after being stretched to “breaking point”, according to one rank-and-file leader.

Hundreds of flats and buildings – some owned by the Met since the 19th century – have been bought from the force since 2012, figures released to the Press Association under Freedom of Information laws show.

The sell-off has left Scotland Yard with just 137 “operational” buildings and 36 “residential” buildings, according to the data.

The force has had to make around £600 million worth of savings since 2010, and must find a further £335 million by 2022, according to the London Mayor’s office.

Metropolitan Police merchandise may even hit the shops soon after a branding firm was brought in to design clothing, toys and souvenirs in an attempt to follow the example of the New York Police department.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, has told the Press Association: “We’ve sold the Crown Jewels, so to speak. We’ve run out of things to sell.

“This is really, really, worrying for society.

“At the end of the day they have all been sold so that we don’t have to cut police officers. That is shocking.”

We've sold the Crown Jewels, so to speak. We've run out of things to sell Ken Marsh, Met Police Federation chairman

The most lucrative deal was the sale of New Scotland Yard in 2016, which boosted Met coffers by £370 million after it was sold to investors from Abu Dhabi for luxury flats.

Chelsea police station fetched £40 million in 2015 while Kilmuir house flats (1-49) in Belgravia went for £45 million a year later.

The figures also show the force still has 30 operational buildings acquired in the 1800s, with Tottenham Police Station the longest-owned, having been acquired in 1859.

Purchase prices were not transferred from paper records to electronic storage, the Met said.

In 2017, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan closed 38 police station front counters to save £8 million per year, and warned Scotland Yard was “running out of options” regarding resources.

In December, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced a cash boost for police in England and Wales that could total nearly £1 billion.

Council taxpayers will fund more than half of the potential £970 million rise, which the Government said would represent the largest overall increase since 2010.

But the announcement drew an immediate backlash, with one police federation leader calling it a “sticking plaster solution” and Mr Khan saying it represented only a “tiny fraction” of the money needed.

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In 2017, Sadiq Khan closed 38 police station front counters to save £8m per year (Yui Mok/PA)

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The truth is that this appears to be a quick fix.

“A sticking plaster solution that injects extra money in the short-term, but one which sees the burden falling unfairly on local council tax payers.”

Mr Khan added: “The additional funding represents a tiny fraction of the huge government cuts to the Met Police since 2010 and will mean the number of police officers in London will continue to fall over the years ahead.”

While most police force funding comes directly from central government, around 30% is drawn from council tax through the policing precept levy.

Overall police funding in England and Wales has fallen by 19% in real terms since 2010.

Over the same period, officer numbers have decreased by more than 20,000.

The Metropolitan Police has said that sales mean more resources are “available for effective and accessible policing” and money would be invested in updating remaining buildings and improving IT services.

PA

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