High emotions and high turnout at Clayhall crime meeting
PUBLISHED: 10:15 06 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:15 06 February 2018
The Clayhall community is on the verge of a very dangerous tipping point.
Residents are petrified to live in their own homes after a spike in violent burglaries which sees new incidents reported almost daily.
They feel alone and forgotten about and say they need more police and fast.
A group of residents, many of them with young families of their own, have taken it upon themselves to patrol the streets at night when they come home from work.
“It is not our job to do it but we have to protect the community,” one man said.
Other residents are equally as passionate – if the high turnout at the Clayhall Community Centre’s crime meeting is anything to go by.
The atmosphere was charged on Sunday, February 5, as hundreds of residents braved cold temperatures to speak to Ilford North MP Wes Streeting and councillors about what could be done to avert the number of burglaries.
“You need to prioritise the people of Redbridge - we need something done today,” said a woman in the crowd.
The sheer will for change almost radiated from residents, as they made sure politicians and representatives fully answered their questions.
People power and community cohesion was out in full force and it was a positive thing to see at the meeting, although it is a shame it came from an issue which is so terrible.
“My 11-year-old does not keep fiction books under the bed - do you know what he keeps?” said one mum to the crowd
“He keeps hockey sticks.
“He has an evacuation plan where he takes his seven-year-old sister and a phone to the bathroom if we get burgled.
“We shouldn’t feel this unsafe in our own home.”
Another resident said that children were openly talking about action plans for when their home gets raided and added: “It is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ our house will be burgled.
“We feel like we are just waiting for our turn.”
“What are we meant to do if someone tries to get in, the police don’t come out when we call 999 - what practically can we do?”.
Mr Streeting said the issue is a priority for him.
In response to pleas from residents who were worried that police officers would not be able to come in time, he said that residents could respond in a reasonable way to a break-in.
“The only way we can really tackle burglary is through more visible police officers on our streets,” he said.
“Since 2010, £600 million has been cut from the Met’s budget by the government - £400 million more is set to follow by 2021.
“I won’t stand for this. I will be campaigning constantly on police cuts.”
The MP said he was disappointed by the amount of senior police representation at the meeting and said he will be “following up on this” as well as talking to the police about what more can be done.
He is worried about the high emotions and tensions in Clayhall and said the situation has the potential to escalate.
A resident also had a similar concern and addressed the crowds.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” she said.
“We are going to have vigilantes out on the street, people will take it in their own hand and you will have killings on the street.
“The police and council need to work together otherwise we will have deaths on our hands.”
Council leader Jas Athwal said although policing does not come under his remit, he will call the chief executive and ask him to dispatch enforcement officers to patrol the street for an increased security presence.
He will also look at adding CCTV in that area and there should be another public event on the issue around March.
The spike in burglaries has made residents feel like they have to protect their own homes.
Pritesh Patel of Sovereign Safe Deposit, Goodmayes, said at the meeting that the demand for his goods has really increased in the last month.
“January saw us receive unprecedented enquiries - a direct reaction to the wide sharing on social media of frightening news reports and malicious footage captured during some of these recent burglaries, notably in IG5 locations,” he said.
“I hate that it has to be this way, I grew up in the area attending Beal High School and it pains me greatly that my area is now under a very viscous threat.
“It was however great to see a community stand together today at very short notice at the meeting - clearly, the topic is of heightened concern.”