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 cameras are in Frensham Drive, Hathaway Road, Headley Drive, London Road, North End (by McDonald’s, where else?), Nursery Road, Poplar Walk, Portland Road and Queen’s Gardens.
“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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Until we have the new tower blocks , –and people living in them — on the expanded site of Taberner House, the Queens gardens are likely to remain an attractive bolt-hole for unfortunate street sleepers, drinkers and perhaps, drug takers.
It is really very sad that , with the decline in office employement in central Croydon, with the departure of Nestles, many insurance companies, etc etc, –plus the elimination of local government officers from Taberner– the number of people eating lunchtime sandwiches and walking through the gardens has dropped to a very low level.
The Gardens may become better used in future, with the rebuilding of the St george’s walk area , Taberner Towers etc etc, but sadly, the overwhelming height of the new taberner towers (4 blocks in all, ) will probably shade the gardens at the key lunchtime period, and partcularly in Winter.. Just how much, only time will tell. Sunlight has been eliminated in 50% of Potters Fields by Tower Bridge since the building of new posh flats on the South side of the Fields. The shaded area was once full of people sunbathing and walking. Now it is gloomy and freezing. People are crammed in to the remaining sunny bits.
Something similar will happen at QGdns. Sad.
I recall a time when tramps frequented the sunken area of Q Gdns–the old Croydon Central station site. In those days, drugs were not a problem. Lots of shoppers walked through the subway to and from the Fairfield halls and car park. It stopped the area becoming a no-go zone.
CCTV is as good as the monitoring thereof. It has some deterrent value, but there is nothing like people walking through a park and using it throughout the day, to keep anti-social activity away. But night time is less predictable.
I’m a bit confused, on the one hand you blame the lack of sunlight and then on the other you advocate building more tower blocks that would surely deny it. Obviously your not an architect. But you’d probably get a £100,000 a year job working for the dysfunctional Council by selling this absurd philosophy as well as a pat on the back from the local police force by stating that drugs were “perhaps” being taken in the Queens Gardens. The police in this country don’t care what drugs anyone takes, they have clearly lost the war against it. They have been condition to react to what is politically correct, unless of course one of them gets gets attacked with a machete during a routine vehicle check. That individual, when proved guilty, should be given a minimum of 25 years in prison as an urgent example to others to show respect for Law and Order in this country.
But “perhaps” that man, reportedly of no fixed abode, was influenced by drugs. I believe that the majority of today’s crimes are committed by people who are, but the police will never admit it. And all time you use the word “perhaps” we will never know the truth. But I’ll tell you now, the drugs problem is far, far worse in this country than people like you or I can ever imagine.
How stupid is it to publicize the exact locations of the cameras installed. Tell everyone, and those causing the problems in the first place will just avoid them. If I had any say in this, those cameras would be removed tomorrow and installed in places Inside Croydon and everyone else wouldn’t know about. Then we might catch some of the vile individuals living in this borough behaving like animals and lock them up. That’s if the Police actually believe they are breaking the law.