CHINA says it has closed a network of "secret police stations" in the UK, which allegedly included one based in a Glasgow restaurant, after ministers told Beijing they were “unacceptable” and “must not operate in any form”.

The existence of the "police service stations" came to light last year after an investigation by Spanish NGO Safeguard Defenders, which claimed the Loon Fung in Glasgow was one of the sites.

The restaurant denied any wrongdoing, with the manager telling press: “There are no secret police here.”

Following an investigation into the allegations, Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said police had visited each of the locations – which also include Croydon, Glasgow, Hendon and Belfast – but had not identified any evidence of illegal activity on behalf of the Chinese state.

READ MORE: Chinese spy row: Police Scotland visit Glasgow's Loon Fung restaurant

However he said the scrutiny after their existence came to light has had a “suppressive effect” and that their presence alone will have “worried and intimidated” those who have left China.

In a Commons written statement Tugendhat said: “The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office have told the Chinese Embassy that any functions related to such ‘police service stations’ in the UK are unacceptable and that they must not operate in any form.

“The Chinese Embassy have subsequently responded that all such stations have closed permanently. Any further allegations will be swiftly investigated in line with UK law.”

He added: “Reports by the non-governmental organisation Safeguard Defenders claimed that there were three Chinese ‘police service stations’ in the UK – in Croydon, Glasgow, and Hendon. Further allegations have been made about an additional site in Belfast.

The National:

“These reports alleged that, whilst these ‘police service stations’ are officially set up in countries across the world to conduct administrative tasks to support Chinese nationals residing abroad, they are also used to monitor and harass diaspora communities and, in some cases, to coerce people to return to China outside of legitimate channels.

“The police have visited each of the locations identified by Safeguard Defenders, and carefully looked into these allegations to consider whether any laws have been broken and whether any further action should be taken.

“I can confirm that they have not, to date, identified any evidence of illegal activity on behalf of the Chinese state across these sites. We assess that police and public scrutiny have had a suppressive impact on any administrative functions these sites may have had.

READ MORE: Experts say China’s use of ‘secret police stations’ no surprise after Glasgow intrigue

“However, these ‘police service stations’ were established without our permission and their presence, regardless of whatever low level administrative activity they were performing, will have worried and intimidated those who have left China and sought safety and freedom here in the UK. This is unacceptable.

“The Chinese authorities regularly criticise others for what they see as interference in their internal affairs. Yet, they felt able to open unattributed sites without consulting the UK Government. It is alleged that this was a pattern repeated around the world.”

The report by Spanish NGO outlined allegations of overseas Chinese police “service stations”, operating in 21 countries spanning five continents, with accusations they were conducting “persuasion operations” to coerce dissidents to return home.

At the time, the Chinese Consulate in Edinburgh refuted the allegations of the alleged secret police stations, saying it was “simply untrue”, and claiming “overseas Chinese service centres” were set up as a solution during Covid-19 to help Chinese nationals unable to travel home with issues “such as renewing their driving licence”.