Scotland Yard put up for sale

LONDON (AFP) - A piece of criminal history can be yours for £250 million (Sing$ 517million) - London's world-famous Scotland Yard police force put its headquarters up for sale Tuesday.

The 22-storey, 56,000-square-metre office block, a short walk from both the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace at Victoria, has been home to the Metropolitan Police since 1967.

The revolving sign outside is instantly recognisable as the backdrop to countless televised police appeals, but the triangular 1960s building is costly to run and badly designed for modern working practices.

"This is a hugely expensive building to run and operate," said Craig Mackey, deputy commissioner of the force. "If we were to stay in this premises we would have to spend about £50 million on it."

Instead, the force is moving to a more modern building nearby, selling off the site and using the money and savings from reduced running costs to invest in frontline policing. This includes body-worn cameras and secure tablets and smartphones that allow officers on the beat to file their police reports without returning to the office.

There is already significant international and British interest in the site, according to Simon Hodson of Jones Lang LaSalle, the firm which is handling the sale.

"The Yard", named after one of its earliest homes in the street named Great Scotland Yard, is one of the most famous forces in the world, and featured in detectives stories about fictional heroes Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot.

But Hodson said that new owners are likely less interested in the historic building as the site, a piece of prime real estate in a recently redeveloped part of London.

"It would be demolished, almost certainly," he said.

The building is currently named New Scotland Yard but the name will go with the force to its new home in the Curtis Green building on Victoria Embankment.