Croydon Council has announced this morning that it is deploying five sets of CCTV cameras in the latest effort to deal with the rising tide of knife crime.
Earlier this week, the police arrested two 17-year-olds on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm following the double stabbing in the Whitgift Centre last Friday, the latest incident in a worrying trend across the capital.
At least 35 people have been fatally stabbed in London since the beginning of the year, prompting headlines which suggest that our city has a worse murder rate even than New York. Two young men, Aren Mali, 17, and Kelva Smith, 20, were killed in incidents in Croydon last month.
Much of the rise in crime has been linked to the fall in the number of police on the streets, with 20,000 officers being lost since 2010 – a period when Theresa May has been either Home Secretary or Prime Minister. Her successor as Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, at the weekend tried to deflect from falling police numbers, but was embarrassed when a leaked Home Office report made the link with rising, violent crime.
“Gimmicky new laws won’t stop knife crime,” Steve Reed OBE, the MP for Croydon North, said in a tweet directed at Rudd. “You need to reverse your damaging cuts to police, youth services, family support, early intervention, mental health services, probation and understand how social media affects young people.”
Yesterday, Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe, Croydon’s borough police commander, accompanied the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on a weapons sweep around Thornton Heath.
Boothe promised more officers on Croydon’s streets. But with fewer officers to call upon, broader CCTV coverage provides some assistance to the over-stretched police.
According to today’s council announcement, the temporary cameras are located outside McDonalds in North End, on Oakfield Road, West Croydon, and on Katharine Street, with a fourth camera being installed on Broom Road on the Shrublands estate and another on Green Lane, Upper Norwood.
“Their placement is part of a wider partnership programme between the council, police, youth outreach teams and the voluntary sector, aimed at helping to stop serious youth violence, and to reduce drug and gang activity,” the council said.
“Concerned residents called for the cameras after witnessing drug-dealing, anti-social behaviour and assaults, and experiencing intimidation when using their local shops.”
The new cameras are four of 10 that are being deployed (initially for three months) to boost the council and police’s ability to cover what the Town Hall press release described as “hotspot areas”.
The camera on Green Lane has been installed, the council said, “after residents witnessed drug-dealing, assault and anti-social behaviour in their area”. The camera “has stopped groups lingering outside the main shopping area, which residents found intimidating.”
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