Fears of a crime revival in Queen's Crescent as the lockdown ends

Police send out officers on bicycles

Friday, 4th June 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby


GOSPEL Oak residents have asked police to intervene to stop a revival of crime as the coronavirus lockdown ends.

Officers have been warned that residents in the area have seen more pickpocketing and crime by riders on pushbikes and electric scooters.

Mick Farrant, a former chairman of the Queen’s Crescent Community Association (QCCA), said: “There are people hanging around the crescent and shops, watching people, watching their homes. I’m not a scared person but it’s quite intimidating at times.”

He added: “There’s a lot of dealers going around on electric scooters and groups of what look like dippers – what we call pickpockets – about.

“People are also feeling more vulnerable after a year inside, and they are less aware of their surroundings.

“I just wish we’d see more police officers patrolling the streets because I think it would really put criminals off.”

Tom Young, who runs a bread and cake stall in Queen’s Crescent market on Thursdays and Saturdays, said: “I was recently assaulted by a drunk man, and there’s obviously all kinds of crime going on in Queen’s Crescent.

“Police footfall goes in waves – sometimes it’s quite prominent, sometimes less so. It seems like a battle between gardeners and garden pests, a non-stop struggle.

“But I know the crime statistics themselves actually paint a rosier picture, so I sometimes think the area isn’t as bad as it’s made out.”

The new head of neighbourhood policing, Superintendent Dominic Barnes, vowed when he entered the job to introduce high-visibility policing across the Camden and Islington force area to reduce crime and reassure communities.

He said: “We have upped patrols around Camden and Gospel Oak but I’d encourage anyone worried about crime in their area to contact their Safer Neighbourhoods teams. We can use whatever information we get in to know when and where is best to patrol.”

The number of officers using bicycles to get around the boroughs has increased in recent weeks.

“We have also created Operation Timbre, a monthly initiative where we deploy around 50 police officers on bicycles in areas of high demand.” said Supt Barnes.

“It means when we see members of the public on bikes or electric scooters we can stop them, check the ownership and if necessary search them.”

Foyezur Miah, chief executive of QCCA, said the problem lies with a lack of services for young people.

He added: “I really do think we need more of a police presence in the area but I know it’s about cost and the massive demand.

“What Covid has done is brought poverty to the surface at the same time as activities for the public generally and young people have been stopped.

“Many have been pushed to the cliff edge and it’s clear to me that services and activities need to be reintroduced as quickly as is safe so there are positive things to engage with instead of anti-social behaviour, drugs or gangs.”

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