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After being temporarily closed in June, the Met’s Art and Antiques Unit will re-form this month according to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

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As revealed by ATG last month, detective sergeant Rob Upham will take up the post which has been vacant since Claire Hutcheon left in March 2016.

The art crime unit temporarily closed in June with its three officers reassigned to other work including the Grenfell Tower investigation.

In a recent Mayor’s Question Time, Sadiq Khan addressed concerns that the unit could be permanently disbanded. He said the Metropolitan Police Service “fully understands the challenges presented by any criminality that affects the cultural heritage of the UK” and “there remains a member of staff within the unit who is able to maintain liaison and work with the industry.”

Art and Antiques Unit’s detective constables, currently seconded, are Ray Swan, Sophie Hayes and Philip Clare who worked alongside civilian analyst Chris Groarke.

New head in October

The mayor confirmed Upham, from the Met’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command, will join in October and added: “Attachments are under continual review and at a point when they can be released back to the Art and Antiques Unit, then they will.

“These decisions are not taken lightly. The MPS has worked hard to minimise the impact on all areas of work including the important work of the Art and Antiques Unit.”

Concerns were raised about the temporary closure of the unit at the Art Business

Conference in London last month. Richard Ellis, a former Metropolitan Police officer who re-formed the art and antiques crime unit back in 1989 after it had closed in 1984, told delegates that “it would be serious folly” not to reopen the unit.

“The Mayor fully understands the challenges presented by any criminality that affects the cultural heritage of the UK