Queens Road facility chosen as location for emergency response unit
Paul Kohler (left) campaigning to save Wimbledon police station
After years of uncertainty, it has been confirmed that Wimbledon Police Station will remain open, for now at least.
It has been chosen as the location for a joint emergency response unit for Merton and Wandsworth.
The move has been branded “brilliant news” by Merton Lib Dem councillor Paul Kohler who started campaigning for the station to remain open after he was brutally attacked by burglars in his own home in 2014.
He thinks he only survived because police officers were able to get to his house quickly from the Wimbledon station.
In 2018 he successfully challenged the Mayor of London’s decision to close the station in the High Court, which led to the closure being halted.
Now the Metropolitan Police has announced that officers working for the Emergency Response Policing Team (ERPT) currently based at Earlsfield Police Station will move over to Wimbledon where the response team for Merton is based.
The move will start on July 29 with 63 officers moving over from Earlsfied with a further 160 making the move later this year.
Cllr Kohler said: “This is brilliant news following the success of our legal action to prevent the station’s closure.
“And whilst it doesn’t guarantee the station’s long term future it is another positive sign that the operational arguments we have pursued for the last three years are winning through.
“It also means Wimbledon’s 24-hour front desk, which was only saved because of our legal action, remains open.”
A spokesperson for the force said that the decision has been made as having two separate sites less than two miles apart is “not the most effective use of resources”.
They added: “This move will make the best use of the current estate and will enable more effective command and control of resources and leadership.
“The recently formed Violence Suppression Unit will move into Earlsfield Police Station with a number of CID investigative teams.
“On July 29 the total number of officers based at Earlsfield will actually increase with uniformed officer numbers remaining consistent.
“Wimbledon Police Station remains the site for the 24/7 police front counter in Merton borough, with Mitcham Police Station being open Monday to Friday 9-5. Lavender Hill remains the site for the 24/7 police front counter in Wandsworth borough.
“A wider feasibility review into the future of the South West BCU estate – including the future of Wimbledon and Earlsfield Police Stations – remains ongoing.”
The latest development has also been welcomed by Wimbledon’s Conservative MP.
Stephen Hammond said: “MOPAC and the Met are still conducting their Estates Review in light of the government’s recruitment of 20,000 extra police officers across the UK.
“While this news does not confirm that Wimbledon Police Station is definitely safe from the threat of closure, it is a further demonstration of the operational importance of our police station and how crucial it is to keep our community safe.”
By Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
July 25, 2020