HALF of London’s police stations are set to close under new plans unveiled this weekend.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan made the announcement on Friday (July 14), claiming Government budget cuts have left him “no choice but to take drastic action”.

The proposals would mean leaving just one 24-hour police counter open in each borough, which would see numbers fall from 73 to 32.

With the Metropolitan Police expected to make £400 million in savings by 2020, the Mayor claims closing “poorly used” police station front counters could save the force £10m a year – the equivalent of 170 officers.

City Hall claims figures show only eight per cent of crime was reported at a police station front desk in 2016, down 22 per cent from 2006.

With the increased use of online reporting, social media, and other digital platforms, Mr Khan says the expense of keeping police counters open is “simply not affordable”.

He said: “The huge Government cuts to the Metropolitan Police Service have left us with no choice but to take drastic action to protect the frontline of policing.

“My top priority is keeping Londoners safe, and every pound saved by closing a front counter is a pound of savings that we do not have to find by reducing the frontline.

“By freeing up officers and moving them closer to their communities, they will be able to spend more time on the beat to tackle the issues that matter most to Londoners, such as knife crime, anti-social behaviour, hate crime and extremism, and domestic abuse.

“We will still be able to maintain a 24/7 front counter service in every borough and are improving the telephone and online services that Londoners value so highly.

“The Government urgently needs to properly fund the Met police so that they can do their job and keep Londoners safe.”

Reacting to the news, Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal said: “We will remain in close contact with Met colleagues and the tri-borough commander about the proposed closure of front counters at our stations in Redbridge and will be responding to the consultation.  

“I understand the police and the Mayor of London have a difficult task ahead of them following the Tory central Government’s decision to remove around £40million from policing - after promising not to cut policing services in London this puts the safety of our residents at risk and I want to ensure we get the best deal possible for our borough.”

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting added: “Barkingside Police Station is a vital point of contact for residents in a well-connected part of the constituency.

“I’ve been worried for some time that the government’s underfunding of our police could affect services at that station, and this now looks more likely.

“I welcome Sadiq Khan's commitment to put extra community police on the beat in Ilford North, but unless the Tories give him the resources he needs, policing in London will suffer.”

But Conservative London Assembly member Gareth Bacon said: “The Mayor is blaming central government for these closures but he is not being upfront and honest with Londoners.

“The fact is the Met has found three quarters of the savings it requires and no announcement has yet been made about future funding.

“It’s been well publicised that Sadiq Khan has been planning these closures since December, yet he’s kept it quiet until now.

"This consultation is a farce – the deal has been done and the Mayor is looking for a scape goat.”

The plans will go out for consultation before getting final approval later this year.