Tower Hamlets Homes fights knife crime by shutting shop

Tower Hamlets Homes is leading the fight against knife crime by shutting down a Limehouse mini-market responsible for criminal and anti-social behaviour.

By taking robust measures against shop owner Feruz Ali Lesser and shutting his shop, the Feruz Super Store, 1 Pennyfields, E14 Tower Hamlets Homes (THH) has neutralised the type of premises that is too often the focus of criminal and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) that eventually leads to knife crime.

The THH A-Team outside the Feruz not so Super Store

A classic example of this is the recent stabbing at the Peri Peri Grill House in Cable Street.

Shopkeeper joined in with ASB

Mr Lesser had allowed his mini-market to degenerate into a gathering point for large groups of youths engaging in rowdy and intimidating behaviour including fights, drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis.

At a court hearing impact statements from local residents included reports of:

  • Large groups of 14–20 year olds intimidating passers-by, fighting with each other and threatening local residents.
  • Cannabis being smoked, alcohol and ‘laughing gas’ being consumed openly and offensive language being used, particularly in front of parents taking young children to school
  • Urinating, vomiting and spitting
  • Shop-keeper not only took no action to stop the behaviour outside his shop but joined in with them
  • Drug-related activity was encouraged in the area by the shop, attracting customers and dealers from the illegal drug trade with packages of drugs being seen changing hands.
  • A group of six boys aged up to 20 kicking a younger (13–14year old) boy repeatedly, whilst on the ground
  • Males on mopeds wearing balaclavas behaving and driving aggressively
  • Cars parked next to the shop playing loud music
  • An angle-grinder used to attempt a break-in to a gate in the nearby housing block
  • Elderly residents being trapped in their homes at they were too frightened to go out.

No regular opening hours and little stock

It was alleged that the shop kept no regular opening hours as would be expected from a local store, exceeded its allowed opening hours by operating past midnight, had very limited stock and sold to under-age customers.

As a result local residents organised a community safety meeting with the police and THH’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team to complain that the business owner was encouraging anti-social and criminal behaviour.

Premises Closure order obtained

Only two weeks later THH’s police teams executed a warrant to search the shop which is just off West India Dock Road. A joint operation with Tower Hamlets Homes, Tower Hamlets police and Tower Hamlets Council resulted in a Premises Closure order being obtained from Thames Magistrates court.

“This so called ‘convenience’ shop was in fact causing major inconvenience to the community. “ said Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Homes, Susmita Sen. “The premises were responsible for criminal behaviour; our residents shouldn’t have to put up it and we won’t put up with it either. We’ll continue to make tackling anti-social behaviour on our estates our highest priority.

LW Comment

Well done all involved especially Tower Hamlets Homes!

This is the sort of action residents and local business owners want to see before lives are lost on our streets – not after the worst has happened.

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