LONDON — The charred remains of Grenfell Tower, the 24-story London apartment building where a fire killed 72 people last year, no longer need preserving as a crime scene, the police announced on Thursday.
The announcement leaves British officials to decide whether to tear down a building that still looms over West London as a reminder of a wrenching chapter in the lives of neighbors and fire survivors who see it as a symbol of official neglect.
“Simply put, we have everything we need from the tower,” Cmdr. Stuart Cundy of London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
The police recovered evidence on the construction and maintenance of the building and used laser scanning, photography and video to virtually recreate Grenfell Tower as part of the investigation into what caused the fire.
The authorities have said they are considering possible criminal charges including gross negligence manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and breaches of the Health and Safety Act.
The blaze, which broke out in the early hours of June 14, shattered the community, highlighted serious inequality in one of London’s richest areas and raised questions about building deregulation after it emerged that cheap external cladding had helped the fire spread rapidly.
The building is now covered in white sheets, green hearts and the words “Grenfell. Forever in our hearts.” But the emotions of survivors, their families and neighbors are still raw, and questions still linger about what caused the fire and who was ultimately responsible.
Last Sunday, it emerged that the site would return to the local government for the North Kensington district where the tower stood, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which is under investigation and could face charges of corporate manslaughter. Survivors’ groups were outraged by the decision, which, they said, created a conflict of interest.
Survivors say they expect the site to be turned into a memorial to victims.
On Wednesday, the government announced it would take over responsibility for the site. The local council would remain the owner, a statement said, but it would have no role in the building’s management or in decision-making about its fate.
A formal agreement on the future of the tower would be announced in the fall, the statement added, pledging to put the community at the heart of the process.
“It’s hard to put into words how personal what happens to the site is to all of us who used to live in the tower, lost loved ones in the fire and also for the wider the community,” Natasha Elcock, a member of the survivors’ group Grenfell United, told the newspaper The Guardian.