Community news and investigative journalism for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets London

Is Wapping the drinking den for Tower Hamlets?

By on June 2, 2013 in Crime & Policing

On a day where we have heard of another mugging at knifepoint in broad daylight in Wapping Woods it seems a good time to leave fun things (birdy pics) and boring things (Network Wapping) to one side and consider crime in Wapping.

First off. What crime? Wapping is apparently one of the three safest places to live in London. But if it was you who was robbed while out for a Sunday jog I doubt if that is any comfort.

The reality is that Wapping is a very safe and peaceful place to live. The trick is to keep it that way.

The main issue that bothers me and many other people I talk to are the problems caused by groups of people drinking in public spaces such as Shadwell Basin, Tobacco Dock and our parks big and small.

No-go zones for ordinary people

By choosing to drink in public rather than in a pub or in their own home (why?) these people make our green spaces no-go zones for ordinary residents. Which is absolutely wrong and has to be stopped.

As PS Jak Bentley pointed out in the recent SNT meeting (see previous post) “Tower Hamlets has imposed a no drinking zone for the whole of Tower Hamlets and this will be used where necessary with regard to noise nuisance caused by youths drinking in public areas.”

Can we see the law being enforced please?

Which is great news. But now the summer is here law abiding residents of Wapping would like to see this enforced please. As Jak says not for people enjoying a glass of wine or beer with a picnic on a sunny Sunday but the groups who gather in our public spaces just to get drunk.

But with the strong possibility of some warmer weather soon this problem will get worse. You know it, the police know it, the Council know it.

Here is where we would like the law to be enforced

Here is a list of public places which I know are of concern to Wapping residents. I am sure you know of others, please get in touch to add yours to this list:

  • Hermitage Memorial Gardens
  • Hermitage Waterside
  • Wapping New Stairs
  • Wapping Rose Gardens
  • Wapping Canal
  • Tobacco Dock
  • Wapping Woods
  • Shadwell Basin

Hang on. That list is virtually all the green spaces in Wapping. What is going on? Is Wapping becoming the drinking den of choice for all of Tower Hamlets? At times it seems so.

I make no apologies for being a firm believer in zero tolerance policing. Stop the low level crime and Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) and you will significantly reduce the more serious crimes like the robbery in Wapping Woods today.

If we continue to allow groups of people to invade our green spaces and so deny them to those who obey and respect the law we will see more robberies in the woods and eventually more serious crimes.

It seems only yesterday that we had a very well attended public meeting about the stabbings in Wapping Woods. People were angry then and they are still angry.

One of the things that virtually everyone I talk to about crime gets annoyed about is the 101 phone line system. The standard response to anyone who reports things like groups drinking in public spaces is to ring 101.

Dial 101. (Rolls On Floor Laughing)

Problem is not much seems to happen. And that’s being polite. To be more direct I think the 101 system is pretty much useless. (Still being polite). People just don’t bother calling 101 because they do not see it working, they tell their friends and family and so they don’t even bother trying 101.

So residents get annoyed because the police do not take action.

And those in charge of policing can point to the statistics and say ‘Well there is no record of a call so how could we have responded?’

And the drinkers just keep on getting drunk.

And we can’t use our parks or public spaces.

This summer maybe we should all make an effort to dial 101 whenever we see groups drinking in public space, ASB or anything else which does not require immediate and urgent police attention? Then at the end of the summer we could ask for a review of response times and actions to all 101 calls in Wapping? And see what has happened?

I await with interest the introduction of the new local policing model in London which you can read about here.

Here’s a quote from that page:

“These [new] teams will investigate ‘lower level’ neighbourhood crimes, such as thefts, criminal damage and anti-social behaviour. They will proactively target offenders, engage with the public and work with communities and partners to address problems.”

Which all sounds good. Let us see what happens?

At the end of the day we live in the middle of one of the world’s global cities. There will always be crime, it’s just a fact of life. And we should consider ourselves fortunate that we live in a quiet and tranquil area.

One last thought. The only person who can reduce crime in Wapping is you. Yes, you, the one reading this now. We all have to take responsibility, get active, get involved and have our say. The Metropolitan Police Service can only function if we help them. So let’s do that thing.

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