Challenge to police station closures succeeds in part – decision to close Wimbledon police station unlawful


Re: R (Kohler) v Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime [2018] EWHC 1881 (Admin)

This was “a claim for judicial review of a decision of the defendant, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, dated 31 Oct 2017, to close 37 police stations in London. The decision would include closing a police station at Wimbledon in the London Borough of Merton and transferring a front counter, open for 24 hours each day, where members of the public can report crimes or otherwise contact the police, to Mitcham, also in Merton. The claimant, Professor Paul Kohler, challenged the consultation and decision-making processes”.

The Court held that, “the consultation process in this case was not conducted well. Both the content and the structure of the consultation document were unsatisfactory. It was markedly less helpful than such documents should be if they are to achieve their purpose in informing a decision on a matter of great significance for a large number of people – here the entire population of the metropolis. The internal documents prepared for meetings had omissions and contained errors. The summary of the consultation responses was not adequate. That is all the more surprising given the importance of the issue – policing and public safety in London”.

Nonetheless, “the defendant did not apply additional or unpublished criteria in reaching the decision to close 37 police stations and did not act inconsistently in the way in which the relevant decisions were reached. It did provide sufficient information to enable persons to respond to the consultation document. In general, there is no evidence of a failure to consider the responses made as part of the consultation exercise. In one distinct respect however, which was the proposal to close Wimbledon police station, the defendant did fail to consider a material point raised during the consultation exercise, namely the suggestion that the decision should be postponed pending an evaluation of the impact of new technology. The decision to close the Wimbledon police station is therefore unlawful and cannot be allowed to stand. To this extent the claim for judicial review succeeds”.

David Wolfe QC was involved in this case.