CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Estate playground used for Sadiq Khan police plan launch ‘taken over by drug dealers’

Problems at the spot where Mayor claimed he would target anti-social behaviour

28 July, 2017 — By William McLennan

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and his deputy Sophie Linden and Borough Commander Catherine Roper

AN estate playground that was used by the Mayor of London to announce his commitment to “proper neighbourhood policing” is being treated as a “nightclub” by drug dealers, residents have claimed.

Sadiq Khan visited the Peckwater estate, in Kentish Town, in January as he promoted a reorganisation of police resources that he said would give officers more time to work in their communities. Residents have repeatedly complained this summer about groups of young men, who arrive in cars and mopeds, drinking and playing loud music into the early hours of the morning in the estate playground and car park.

Resident Declan Ryan said: “It’s a regular occurrence. They are smoking drugs, drinking and dealing. They smash glass, the whole place is trashed. The crux of the matter is that some of the residents come out on a Sunday morning and do their best to clean the place because we don’t want to be living in that type of environment. It’s terrible.”

Another resident wrote to the New Journal anonymously, saying: “They take and deal drugs, drink, scream and shout and the police and council do nothing. How can the Metropolitan police allow drug dealing and drug taking to occur under their noses?”

They added: “Anti-social behaviour is an awful thing, it wears communities down, causes anxiety and makes us all feel useless. We need a police force that will stand up for us and sort out this behaviour quickly and efficiently. We need to have faith in them that they are here to protect everyone, not just those who live on private estates.”

Camden Council’s community safety chief, Councillor Abdul Hai, said tackling the problem, which he accepted was linked to drug dealing, was a “priority”. He added: “We are working very closely with the police to make sure there is a visible presence. We have agreed to use CCTV and community safety officers. “Where there are known hotspots across Camden we are developing a robust plan to deal with them.”

Police have introduced a dispersal zone, which covers the estate every weekend and gives them powers to force people to leave. A Met spokesman said: “We are putting extra resources onto the estate to deal with the reported anti-social behaviour, but unfortunately this is an issue that is being replicated across Camden and Islington and throughout London.”

Under a new command structure, which resulted from the merger of Camden and Islington’s police forces, an inspector has been appointed for the first time to focus solely on anti-social behaviour and issues related to licensed premises.

The Met spokesman added: “Anti-social behaviour is a big issue and affects most areas and we recognise this, which is why we are starting to divert significant resources to deal with it. Unfortunately anti-social behaviour and its causes can be complex and we are engaging with the local authority and other partners to find longer-term solutions.”

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