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London Mayor challenged over proposed police station closures

Lawyers acting on behalf of a university professor, who was savagely beaten by burglars in his own home, have today launched a formal legal challenge to London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to close 37 police stations across the capital.

25 January 2018

Lawyers acting on behalf of a university professor, who was savagely beaten by burglars in his own home, have today launched a formal legal challenge to London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to close 37 police stations across the capital.

Paul Kohler - a legal academic at SOAS University of London - has instructed lawyers from law firm Leigh Day to lodge formal legal proceedings to challenge the decision of the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC) to close more than half the current police stations in London.

Under the terms of the legal challenge, Mr Kohler is seeking permission to take the decision to Judicial Review. This follows a formal approach late last year in which Mr Kohler asked the Mayor to reconsider the original decision to close 37 of the current 73 police stations across London and carry out a new and meaningful consultation.

Mr Kohler,58, believes the original public consultation and consequent decision were legally flawed and unlawful as: 

  • Not enough information was provided to Londoners through the consultation. For example, alternative solutions to the closure of the stations were rejected on the basis that they did not generate enough money, but those consulted were not told they had to fulfil cost saving criteria, nor given any financial information to enable them to provide informed responses;
  • The Mayor failed to give proper consideration to the consultation responses across the various boroughs.


Mr Kohler was the victim of a violent attack in his home in Wimbledon in 2014 and firmly believes he only survived because police officers were able to get to his house from the local station in Wimbledon - one of the stations due to close - within eight minutes of the 999 call made by his daughter, who heard the attack taking place, from the bedroom where she was hiding.

During the violent burglary, Mr Kohler suffered a fractured eye socket, broken nose and severe internal bleeding. Four men were later sentenced to between 13 to 19 years’ imprisonment for the attack.

The London Mayor announced in November 2017 the decision to close at least 37 police stations across the capital in a bid to make financial savings in response to the Government’s decision to significantly cut police funding.

The decision followed a consultation launched on 14 July 2017 by MOPAC on a Draft Public Access and Engagement Strategy (PAES) for the capital which was described by the Independent Consultation Institute as "the worst consultation of 2017" and reading like "a sales pitch for a pre-determined strategy".

Mr Kohler, who is raising funds to support his legal challenge through the CrowdJustice site,

said: "Londoners on a daily basis see the vital role the police play in ensuring London remains a vibrant, diverse and safe place in which to live, work and play.

"The Mayor’s plan to remove police stations from the heart of many communities is a short-sighted and unimaginative response to the funding crisis caused by the Government’s equally misguided decision to slash the Metropolitan Police budget. His simplistic, partisan and binary approach to the budget shortfall has simply compounded the problem, whilst his desultory and unlawful ‘consultation’ has done nothing to address Londoner’s legitimate concerns.

"Policing by consent relies on the police working in the heart of the community and we risk causing irreparable damage to the Met’s relationship with Londoners if we allow the Mayor’s dangerous proposals to go unchallenged."

Tessa Gregory, who is representing Mr Kohler and works at law firm Leigh Day, said: "The sweeping decision to close over half of London’s police stations was taken after what we consider was an inadequate and unlawful consultation.

"By issuing these proceedings today all our client is seeking to ensure is that Londoners have an opportunity to have their voices and their concerns listened to through a full and proper consultation process."



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