– Memos show front counters will reduce from 73 to 36
– Sadiq Khan’s team has been formulating plans since December
– Includes discussions of how best to spin the closures to the public
– Mayor used election campaign press release in attempt to pre-emptively deflect blame onto central government
The Mayor of London is set to close more than half of London’s police stations under plans exposed in leaked emails dating back over six months.
The leaks contradict a press release Sadiq Khan issued earlier this month warning central government cuts would be to blame if any such closures took place.
In fact internal memos have revealed the Mayor’s team had been plotting the closures since as far back as December 2016.
The release of his statement in the wake of two major terrorist attacks in London and Manchester has led to accusations he was playing politics and attempting to pre-emptively deflect blame.
Under the plans, the number of front counters in London would be slashed from 73 to 32 full time and four daytime stations, with just one front counter per borough.
Sadiq Khan’s team, including the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, were involved in email exchanges about what messaging should be used to best spin the idea to the public.
Transport for London gave their contributions to the plans, providing public travel data to help inform the selection of closures.
One email shows MOPAC and the Metropolitan Police were compiling a list of stakeholders and had requested discussions on the best approach to get them on board with the idea and limit any potential backlash.
The Mayor made no mention of the potential closures in his Police and Crime Plan published in March, yet went on to release his press statement at the end of May, claiming potential future cuts might cause something he had been planning for over six months.
London Assembly member Gareth Bacon, who challenged Mr Khan on the revelations at Mayor’s Question Time, said:
“This would be scandalous behaviour from any elected official but for the Mayor of London to orchestrate such a blatant manipulation of public fear brings his entire office into disrepute.
“Sadiq Khan has attempted to profit politically from the public’s security concerns in the wake of two major terrorist attacks by claiming he would be forced to close police stations if the Conservatives were elected.
“In reality, he and his team have been planning in secret to close half of London’s police stations and front counters for over six months – even discussing the best way to spin it to the public.
“This was a blatant attempt by the Mayor to manipulate public concern for political gain and deflect blame for his own decisions onto central government. Londoners deserve better transparency when it comes to decisions affecting front line policing at such a sensitive time.”
– View a playback of the exchange at Mayor's Question Time