News from Sian Berry: A new home for London’s lost and found

05 October 2017

All lost property in London should be handled by Transport for London if police station closure plans go ahead, Sian Berry AM has told police this week.

Plans to shut all but one police front counter in each borough could force Londoners to travel miles to hand in lost property to police – one of the most common reasons for visiting a police station. The proposed closures are likely to mean fewer Londoners are reunited with lost items.

In her response to the consultation on closure plans, which ends on 6 October, [1] Sian has suggested that Transport for London, which already has its own lost property office, could become the sole ‘official’ handler of lost property for Londoners, only bringing in police in cases of suspicious items.

Londoners wondering where to take items they find are still directed by the Metropolitan Police website to take them to local police stations but these will largely vanish if the closure plans go ahead.

Londoners and visitors alike would find it simpler to have a single lost property service, and TfL already has a much wider range of locations to hand in property and a dedicated office for storing and collecting lost items. It would also be more efficient for the GLA as a whole for only one of its organisations to be officially providing this service.

Sian has warned that any change would need careful communication as many people’s first instincts when they find a lost wallet, bag or personal item is to hand it to police.

Green Party London Assembly Member Sian Berry says:

Londoners use local police stations for much more than reporting crime – according to the police’s survey, more than one in five visits to police front counters was to collect, enquire about or drop off lost property.

We still need this essential service and as TfL already have a dedicated helpline and system for people looking for their lost belongings it makes sense to make them responsible for lost property across London if the Met does decide to close almost all of its front counters at the end of this consultation.

Personal items left behind on trains, cabs, the tube and transport network are already collected by TfL – my idea is to expand and make it simpler for all Londoners to get their lost belongings back.

Notes to editors

[1] Response to Police draft Public Access and Engagement Strategy. Sian Berry. Oct 2017 https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2017_10_04_sb_mopac_access_strategy_consultation.pdf

Other recommendations from the report:

1.            These plans should be reviewed, with more attention given to the appraisal of individual front counters and local police bases. It is likely to be found that the value of many of these exceeds the savings that could be made if closed, especially for leased or recently renovated properties. The review should look at:

•          the views of officers who use each facility

•          the wider value to the community, as well as the context, including whether the removal of a facility will lead to a high street or community losing its last public service contact point

•          allowing more facilities to remain until the end of their leases, before further review.

2.            For the lost property functions carried out by the police, the Mayor should consider moving these officially to TfL. This could potentially increase efficiency overall within the GLA, though will need careful communication if it is to be done well.

3.            The property disposal strategy for assets that are to be closed should be co-ordinated with the Mayor so that it fits into his overall land and housing strategy, with the maximum possible provision of social housing– ideally a guaranteed 50 per cent across the sites.  Looking at this in terms of the wider Mayoral goals including reducing crime should lead to more emphasis on housing Londoners can afford and less on maximising only financial returns for the MPS.