We’re coming together to tackle dramatic rise in Archway crime
08 December, 2017
CCTV image of moped thieves raiding an Archway café
• AS Councillor Andy Hull, lead member for community safety, tweeted after the meeting in Whittington Community Centre last Wednesday: “200 plus attended tonight’s public meeting about how local people in Junction & St George’s wards, together with @MPSIslington, @IslingtonBC and partners, can address a recent rise in crime and anti-social behaviour in the area: a community standing together, determined and united.”
I chaired the meeting, saying how positive it was that the community was coming together to engage in dialogue with police, councillors and other agencies to move the situation in the neighbourhood forward.
It is sad that the usually safe and peaceful neighbourhoods of Junction and St George’s wards are experiencing a dramatic rise in crime and anti-social behaviour. Many people in the audience spoke of young people witnessing muggings regularly. Some people had themselves been attacked by groups of people.
They asked the police what they were doing about it and asked for more CCTV and more police presence in the area.
The panel of speakers included councillors Janet Burgess, Satnam Gill and Kaya Comer-Schwartz. Cllr Gill spoke about the importance of unity and how some people are asking for private security.
He said that would not work as those streets that could afford it would have security and those that couldn’t would not. He didn’t support the privatisation of the police force.
Councillors Burgess and Comer-Schwartz spoke about the engagement of councillors with police and community over the critical situation in the area.
Superintendent Nick Davies said the trouble was being caused by a group of about 30 boys and girls, ranging in age from 12 to 17. Much of it is organised drug gang crime, and the leaders of the gang have been disowned by their parents.
iPhones and tablets are the main target as they are easy to handle and valuable because of their parts, especially the gold chips. Vulnerable young people with little else on offer get caught up and are willing to take the risk involved in making quick money.
Violence escalated between June and Halloween and then got worse. Archway tube station has the highest level of mobile phone theft in London. Moped crime and violent muggings on foot in the area are being done by the same gang.
Supt Davies spoke about Operation Attrition, where police have used their powers of stop-and-search and dispersal. Twenty-one police officers have been around Archway in plain clothes and uniform, using mopeds, vans and cars.
Five of the gang leaders have been arrested in the last few weeks and are in prison. In the last 10 days there have been no moped crimes in Junction ward.
The 101 police call centre number is having problems because of a shortage of staff and is recruiting. Anyone looking for a job? Police are also upgrading their website, communications and Twitter, and are launching Next Door, a site for communicating between community and police.
Every ward in Islington has two police officers and a PCSO. There is a neighbourhood watch initiative being run by police.
In answer to questions from an audience angry about the lack of youth services, Cllr Hull said that the government had cut the council budget by half since 2010. Islington was the only borough that had protected children’s services.
People were urged to write complaining about the increase in crime and the lack of funding for police and children’s services to home secretary Amber Rudd, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Prime Minister Theresa May, the Borough Commander for Islington, councillors and their MP.
Andy spoke about the need to take a forensic approach by looking at individuals and their families and to speak to the whole family. Other actions involve cutting down hedges around Whittington Park to improve visibility and putting CCTV in the park opposite the football pitch.
The supervisor of security firm Parkguard said they would be a permanent presence in the park until the beginning of next year.
The council’s community safety team talked about the work Families First is doing to support the families of these children. They are telling businesses not to let them hang out late at night, and setting up groups where parents support each other.
Schools are being offered a visit from the Safe Schools team. The multi-agency, community-based teams are being remodelled to become more visible to children and parents. They will be around until late at night during the week and at weekends.
The community is encouraged to report all crimes to police, including suspicious behaviour. They need information such as number plates or a sticker on a helmet, the colour of the helmet or clothes, anything that could be useful to link someone to another report.
Roger D’Elia, a member of the audience, is on the Islington Safer Neighbourhood Board, whose job is to scrutinise police and work with young people. He said that supporting good neighbourhood policing to dissemble organised crime is the strategy.
Yerbury Road, N19