East London residents fear crime and disorder will skyrocket in their neighbourhood after their local police station was sold for almost £3 million.

The Metropolitan Police’s Isle of Dogs branch closed its counter to the public in 2013, though it was still operating in early 2022 before being sold in February for £2.8 million.

Just five months after it officially closed, a “large” cannabis factory was found inside the premises and was raided by police. The building is currently being let to property guardians, who live in abandoned buildings to prevent vandalism and squatting.

Now the only “proper” police station in the borough of Tower Hamlets still open to the public is in Bethnal Green, councillor Peter Golds told the Evening Standard.

East London Advertiser: The Met\'s Isle of Dogs police station was sold for £2.8million earlier this year

Across the borough, Poplar police hub had its lease terminated in 2013, followed by Brick Lane’s offices in 2017, a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service shows.

Although stations in Bow and Limehouse are still in use, they closed their counters to the public in 2013 and 2017 respectively. Residents living in the Isle of Dogs say the number of closures in recent years has made the area unsafe.

Having opened his restaurant in the Isle of Dogs 35 years ago, Abdul Dani called the number of closures “a big shame”. He said: “We need police help and we need police to be more active. Only one police station is open to report anything and it [feels like] it takes one day to go there.

East London Advertiser: Nicola Micallef grew up in the Isle of Dogs and says the only time she sees police in the area is when there is a section 60 in place

“Twenty years ago we had many options for the police to report things we had four to five [stations] to report a crime and now we only have one in the whole of Tower Hamlets, it’s scary.”

Nicola Micallef grew up in the Isle of Dogs and now works nearby. She told the LDRS that having police officers on the streets would make a “big difference” to the area. The only time she sees police is when a section 60 stop and search notice has been launched in the area due to serious crime and disorder.

She added: "Having a police station would make a big difference to the Isle of Dogs.

“Not having a police station nearby, you can see a lot more crime and violence than obviously if it was open. To even know there are police in there, whether that’s street police – at least it’s somebody.”

Huge government cuts to the Metropolitan Police service meant it needed to make savings of nearly £1 billion since 2010.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the LDRS shows the total profit made from selling off 55 London police stations over the past 10 years amounts to a staggering £433 million.

Belgravia’s station was sold for the highest amount in 2017 at £75 million, followed by West End Central’s station in 2017 for £56 million and Chelsea’s police station in 2013 for £40 million.

As well police stations being closed across London, residents have seen fewer officers on the streets. According to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), the number patrolling the capital dropped to its lowest between 2017 and 2018, with just 30,000 on the rota. However, it has now increased to over 34,000 Met figures published in September 2022 show.

The LDRS shared residents’ concerns and police station closure data with MOPAC. A spokesperson said in response: “The front counter at the Isle of Dogs police station was closed by the previous mayor in 2013. A decision was taken in February of this year to sell the building in order to protect officer numbers and to prioritise tackling violence.”

The spokesperson added that Londoners’ safety was the mayor’s “top priority” and claimed officer numbers have risen to “record levels” under his leadership in the capital.

They added: “Sadiq Khan has ensured there’s a 24-hour police front counter in every London borough alongside telephone contact centres, a new website, an enhanced social media presence and a strengthened, dedicated police team in every ward in the city so that Londoners have a wide range of options for contacting police.”

Met Police told LDRS: “The Met has transformed to be more efficient and effective, saving millions of pounds and reducing the cost of supporting frontline policing, notably by a significant reduction in the number of buildings it owns.

“We have equipped officers with mobile devices so they can spend more time on the streets and less time at a desk, tackling violent crime and safeguarding the most vulnerable people in society.

“Our top priority is ensuring members of the public can access the help they need and there are a range of ways for the public to contact the police, including online via our website www.met.police.uk, on the phone via 101 or 999 in the case of an emergency. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”