Met Police make nearly £1 billion from London property sales

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The Metropolitan Police has sold off almost £1 billion in London property over the past five years amid steep funding cuts, official figures show.

Hundreds of flats and buildings - some owned by the Met since the 19th century - have been bought from the force since 2012-13.

By far the most lucrative deal was the sale of New Scotland Yard in 2016, which went for £370 million to investors from Abu Dhabi for luxury flats.

The Queen will officially open the new Met headquarters on Victoria Embankment on Thursday, which will house some 600 staff.

Some 24 police stations have been shut down and sold, including Chelsea police station, bought for £40 million in 2015.

The figures were obtained by the Press Association under Freedom of Information requests.

They also show that:

:: 20 blocks of flats have been sold at a total cost of £111.5 million, with Kilmuir house flats (1-49) in Belgravia fetching £45 million in 2016.

:: The most expensive single residential property was a flat in Sailmakers Court, Fulham, which went for £1.4 million in 2012.

:: Overall, 67 "operational" units were sold, as were 20 "residential blocks", and 84 "residential units".

Responding to the PA's findings, the Metropolitan police said the sales meant more resources were "available for effective and accessible policing" and that money would be invested in updating remaining buildings and improving IT services.

"The Metropolitan Police Service has a duty to provide the best value for Londoners and make sure all its resources are delivering the best possible policing services," the spokesman added.

Scotland Yard has had to make £600 million of savings since 2010, and must find a further £400 million by 2021, according to the London Mayor's office.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick has said officers have been "stretched" following recent terror attacks along with a rise in violent crime.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said he was "pleased" a fund had been created "to go to good use" but questioned where the police would be without the money.

He added:"The Government seem to be doing it on the cheap. Without this, we'd be relying on criminals' money to fund the police."