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Sixty-five front counters at police stations across London will be shut as part of proposals to trim £500million from the Metropolitan Police budget by 2016.

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Richmond and Islington are the only boroughs to keep all of their front counters, while Croydon, Havering and Barking will retain only one station each.

Under the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime’s (MOPAC) draft estate strategy, New Scotland Yard will also be closed and sold off, with the main headquarters moved to the Curtis Green Building in Westminster.

Instead, The Met has proposed to co-locate front counters in supermarkets, coffee shops and will carry out a pilot in the Post Office.

The aim is to downsize its estate by 300 square metres by the 2015/16 financial year and reduce running costs for its office by one third to £140m a year by April 2016.

Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne admitted that front counters where people will be able to report crime and seek advice would be operational under reduced hours.

He said: “In every borough across London we will still have a fully staffed police station open 24 hours a day.

“It’s not like we’ve withdrawn completely from the high street or communities.”

Met Police Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackay said less than 50 crimes every day are now reported at the current 136 front counters in police stations after 7pm.

We are investing over 2,600 neighbourhood officers into neighbourhood policing teams where you can talk to the Met face-to-face.”

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly, said the proposals could return Londoners to “the dark days”.

She said: “These proposals will decimate the successful safer neighbourhood teams that have operated in every ward across London for the last decade.

“If implemented there is a real fear that we will return to the dark days when the public had far less contact and interaction with their local police.

“The model of a dedicated team of police officers for every ward has helped restore confidence in policing and ensured that the police are far less remote from the public.”

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