Complaints of anti-social behaviour, drinking and drug-use in the open space between the Town Hall and Fairfield Halls has led to it being declared a crime hot-spot by the council, as KEN LEE reports
Queen’s Gardens has been declared a crime hot spot by the council.
Right outside the Town Hall itself, and across the road from the Fairfield Halls which is about a month away from a grand opening after its £41million refurbishment, Queen’s Gardens is the only green space in the town centre – although this has not stopped the Labour-run council from effectively privatising the open space in a secretive multi-million-pound deal that has allowed developers to overspill into the gardens as they build flats on the former site of Taberner House.
But the gardens have become so run-down and neglected, it has become notorious for episodes of anti-social behaviour, with incidents of day-time drinking and drugs use.
The problem has reached such an extent that the council has this week announced some action to tackle the issues, although, as we have come to expect in this decade of Tory austerity, this does not include additional and regular foot patrols by the local constabulary.
Instead, this week the council has announced that it is going to endeavour to clean-up Queen’s Gardens in time for the arrival of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Dame Judi Dench and various other Fairfield Halls-bound dignitaries, by the installation of a temporary CCTV camera.
The council has “deployed”, in the Thunderbirds-esque, militaristic language adopted by its press release, 10 temporary CCTV cameras around the borough “to tackle anti-social behaviour, fraud, fly-tipping and theft”.
“The locations were selected after residents highlighted them as areas often affected by these types of crime,” according to a statement issued this week by the Goebbels Institute for Truth and Transparency (formerly the council press office).
“The cameras will initially be in situ for three months to help boost the council and police’s ability to respond to temporary problems in areas not covered by the existing fixed CCTV network.
“The use of temporary cameras has proved useful in the past,” the council claims, “for example footage from a temporary camera trained on Queen’s Gardens helped to stop a serious fight from escalating, as the CCTV operators saw the incident and alerted the police who were quick to attend and stop further assaults taking place.”
Which sort of suggests that having had a temporary camera in Queen’s Gardens previously, that it was then removed and only now is being reinstalled. Or “deployed”.
Not too soon for the nice people in the Fairfield Halls over the road, no doubt.
The notion that there has been CCTV use in Queen’s Gardens previously, and someone decided to withdraw it, is underlined by another paragraph from this week’s press release: “Once the three-month period has passed, the Safer Croydon Partnership will assess whether there is ongoing need for the camera to be kept in the temporary location, based on whether there has been an increase or decrease in crime and anti-social behaviour.”
By which time, of course, the long-planned visits by C-list royals and A-list Hollywood stars will have become things of warm memory, and the clampdown of Queen’s Gardens can be lifted and the day-time drinkers and spliff smokers can return to their usual routines.
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