Croydon town centre is close to becoming a no-go zone, as the police have been issuing special restriction notices that give them greater powers of stop and search, while the local MP has appealed to parents and guardians not to allow their teenaged children to congregate around high street chicken shops and fast food restaurants.
Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central, issued a statement yesterday following the recent spate of violent incidents, under a heading which described events as a “crime surge”.
One of the incidents saw two boys as young as 13 taken to hospital with stab wounds after a fight involving at least six youths outside McDonald’s on Church Street.
Jones, who is Keir Starmer’s shadow minister for police, issued her statement with the intention of reassuring residents worried about the recent increase in violent youth crime on the streets of Croydon.
While Jones made her remarks, there was another stabbing in the area, this time at Papermill Close in Carshalton. The incident was reported at around 4.30pm. Two men were taken to hospital, neither with life-threatening injury. One had a stab would in his thigh.
Yesterday also marked the opening of the Old Bailey murder trial following the death in December 2021 in Ashburton Park of 15-year-old Zaian Aimable-Lina. The accused, who is now 17 (and too young to be identified in case reports) denies murder and a secondary charge of possessing a blade.
The court heard how Aimable-Lina and the accused had been with a group of friends in the park to smoke cannabis. According to witnesses, after a brief disagreement, Aimable-Lina was stabbed. He died at the scene due to “massive blood loss” from his punctured his heart and lung. The case continues.
MP Jones issued her statement on social media, saying that she was writing “… to reassure constituents after a recent surge in violent crime in and around East Croydon”.
She included an update on the situation from the Metropolitan Police, who have put more officers on patrol in the town centre.
“Violence on our streets is completely unacceptable,” Jones said.
“The police have increased their presence in the town centre and agencies and charities have been working really hard to try and divert young people away from crime.
“But clearly people will be worried about the events of the last 10 days.”
The first of those recent violent incidents occurred outside Nando’s on the High Street on Saturday, March 18, where witnesses reported seeing someone wielding a machete.
On Monday, March 20, police arrested two men, one charged with attempted murder, the other with possessing an offensive weapon. “The victim is still in a life-threatening condition,” the MP said.
The third incident was the group fight in Church Street. “The victims in this case are 13 years old, and injuries sustained were not life-threatening or life-changing,” Jones wrote.
“Two suspects have been arrested and bailed.”
The MP’s statement continued: “The police have a policing plan in place with significant resources. This includes schools officers, town centre teams, Violence Suppression Units, robbery squad and schools officers on their street duties. They will be patrolling Croydon Town Centre (including Church Street) between 3pm and 10pm each day.
“Please rest assured that I am in close communication with local police in Croydon. They are working hard to keep the borough safe.”
And she added: “There has been a noticeable increase in school kids congregating in the town centre in afternoons. I would be grateful if parents/guardians would discourage their children from going to the town centre in big groups after school.”
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Is there an empty shop near to MacD’s by the Whitgift Centre? The Police would be far more use if a few of them were based there.
Have you met or spoken to one recently?
I thought they were less use than a chocolate tea pot even before the recent confirmation that they’re also racist and useless.
Appreciate the sentiment But actually I have. I also found that the two officers I spoke to were not racist and definitely not useless. In fact quite the opposite.
What I did find was that too often the Police are having to cover for the Councils failures and have even less resource to do so.
Baroness Creasy made some very good points and highlighted areas that needed definite improvements and also there is the varied home office standards, but lets not tar the many that do a hard job and do it well in very difficult circumstances.
I have met enough officers with dodgy if not criminal practices in my life to my personal detriment at times too – but I have met many more that are not. Too often the good work is unsung and ignored yet the bad hits the BBC in flash reports.
I have also met Council enforcement officers – the few that are left. They are also let down by how few they are and the very difficult environment they have to work in and (not their words, mine) – the total idiocies they have to deal with and put up with from public executives/officers who have little understanding of the nature of the role and acts they face daily.
I personally have been a bit ascerbic about what I see happening and by all means point out wrong or badly behaving – but lets not be generalistic as there are the many officers that work thanklessly in all our interests.
They need public confidence and as much motivation and support that we can give them. despite our frustrations and anger at what has been done and the systemic failures as well as nagging about improving.
The special powers for stop and search may be helpful but 4 – 6 officers faced with 50+ kids are on to a hiding for nothing.
Perhaps it might be better to exclude children under 18 loitering outside premises unless accompanied by a verifiiable parent/guardian from the Centre between 15.00 – 18.30 mon – fri ?
Maybe it would be better to extend care in schools with after hours social/sports/games activities for all children run by in the main local parent volunteers with school support. That would go a long way to ending the rise in latch-key kids in the borough due to cuts.
Perhaps the Whitgift and other public schools could run open rugby trials and games for teenagers from other schools?
Parents do not want their children on the streets and in danger but they also do not want them to starve and be homeless – there will always be some that will stray but many are not being given options in Croydon and there is so much talent going to waste because of this Councils systemic incompetence.
Time for change
There have always been large groups of youth congregating in Croydon. The difference is the way they are treated and have been treated in the past. I read your response but I still say the Casey report outlines what is actually going on with the youth that are causing the problems. How is more aggression going to stop thier behaviour? Year after year the police receive more powers and use more and more force without improving the borough. I have absolutely no doubt you believe the officers you spoke to are nice- that’s because you’re not a thirteen year old of colour. Your experience of the police is not the same. Don’t you understand- it’s brute force and ignorance on the part of the police that has lead to this situation in Croydon. Children carry knives to protect themselves as they know the police won’t. The police stand back and watch it happen. You need to look at the Casey report more closely if you want to bring Croydon back from the ghetto it has become. If you listen to both sides. The police have failed the public in Croydon for decades and created this mess. And of course they are not ever at fault. Throwing money at them isn’t going to help. Sending more out you are creating a war zone. Go and speak to your constituents and find out what they really think about how Croydon has changed. You’ll find the same response from all sectors of society in Croydon. The police failed them, they look out for themselves and aren’t into community spirit and that has taken over like a disease. Every man out for themselves because the police failed them. It’s an awful borough to live in compared to the rest of the country. If you can’t hear what the previous comment said and what I repeat to you now- then you are simply not listening to the public but to the story you are being told by an organisation that has been finally been exposed by the Casey report. The Borough had failed its youth again and again and this is what they created. The attitude of young people in Croydon is mind blowing. But if you listen you understand they have got that way because they are constantly let down – “lack of funding” comes out to thier mouths when you suggest how to get help. The Council has created this dynamic in Croydon. Young people in the borough are constantly let down. Croydon is a ghetto.
I have no doubt that many police officers are doing their best (albeit not in my experience with the Met), but there are not enough of them, by any stretch of the imagination.