Furious Wapping residents were left in frustration last night as Tower Hamlets Police were unable to give assurance on how the rising level of crime and anti-social behaviour in the area will be tackled.
More than 100 residents packed into the St George Town Hall, to quiz Borough Commander Sue Williams on rising levels of crime and ASB. Attendees stressed that, while the small metal canisters discarded by people inhaling nitrous oxide are viewed as simply a litter problem, they are also linked to harder drug use and dealing, intimidation, prostitution, and car racing.
Local campaigner Stephen O’Shea attended the meeting and said: “The current levels of anti-social behaviour and racing in Wapping need to be fixed now. Local residents are concerned to walk their dogs at night, and although the Police and Council have promised action, nothing has been delivered yet. We refuse to wait until someone is killed or seriously injured”
This car racing issue dominated the discussion last night, with residents standing up to report their issues and fears. Commander Williams listened to our concerns, but had little concrete to say in response. Their resources are stretched, and they focus on the North of the Borough, which they consider more of a problem. This is understandable, but the lack of focus on Wapping is leading to a massive increase in crime, and we made sure that Commander Williams was made aware of that.
The Police promised to increase surveillance in the evenings (when speeding is likely to occur), make more use of speed cameras and to bring in road traffic police to assess what can be built in to reduce the problem. They called for residents to report any speeding, but there were shouts of anger when it was suggested that “there has not been enough evidence of speeding to date”. We have all been reporting these events frequently for months.
The Lib Dems welcome the Borough Commander’s promise to increase action on car racing, but are concerned that this is the same information heard from the Police at every meeting in the last two years. Also, the Council has done worryingly little to support the Police with work on the roads, and providing activities for youths to keep them off the streets.
The Lib Dems call on the Police and the Council to present a plan on what will be done in the next six months to fix the issue of car racing, and ASB in general, and will hold them to this plan.
In the meantime, you can help in three ways:
• If you witness any speeding, drug use or other ASB, report it at http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/community_and_living/community_safety__crime_preve/anti-social_behaviour/reporting_asb_online.aspx or phone 101
• Join the Wapping Safer Neighbourhood Panel – they set the priorities for Wapping police to follow
• Join up the Online Watch Link (OWL) at https://www.owl.co.uk/met/ . It’s a new online version of Neighbourhood Watch
On a final note: as we returned home from the meeting last night, there was another car crash on the corner of Thomas More St. Luckily no-one was hurt. We have made sure that this was reported, to add to the Police's data file!