Residents tell police: Dealers sell drugs in Ilford ‘like from an ice cream van’

Members of British Transport Police's Operational Support Unit during a drugs raid in Ilford.

Members of British Transport Police's Operational Support Unit during a drugs raid in Ilford. - Credit: Archant

Angry residents harangued police officers and councillors over drug dealing issues near Ilford station, despite the wave of arrests earlier this month.

Speaking at last night’s external scrutiny panel, a woman, who had lived in Balfour Road for 33 years, said: “It’s making our lives an utter nightmare.”

She described how a car had pulled up on her driveway selling drugs to customers “queueing up like from an ice cream van”.

“This has been going on for years,” she added.

Another resident told the council chamber how users regularly took drugs in the alley behind his house, and if he said anything to them he would get attacked.

The panel was focused on the crime and safety issues in Ilford town centre, but particularly around York Road and Mansfield Road.

Redbridge borough commander Ch Supt Mandy Beacher said that she was shocked when she first heard the residents problems, at the previous meeting, but hoped the arrests showed action was being taken.

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She said: “If I rewind back to March 22 I had been borough commander for just over a week, and heard some of these issues.

“I was pretty horrified, not only members of the public were fearful but some of my police officers were seriously assaulted.”

Ch Supt Beacher explained she radically changed the policing tactics to deal with the “number one hotspot in the whole of the borough”.

She also managed to involved British Transport Police (BTP), which led to an “unprecedented operation”.

BTP Insp John Loveless took over the TfL Rail line earlier this year.

He told councillors: “The first thing anyone told me was there’s drug dealing in Ilford station.

“I thought my gosh that’s the first person I’ve spoken to.”

BTP put significant resources into the operation, and worked with Redbridge Police to gain intelligence which led to the raids on September 1.

Officers hit 13 addresses in the area, and arrested and charged 18 people with drug dealing offences, who are due to appear at Snaresbrook Crown Court next week.

Insp Loveless added: “I hope people are beginning to notice some significant improvements, but there’s more to do.”

Ch Supt Beacher explained she had moved officers from other parts of the borough to the area until at least Christmas, when she would review the situation.

For all the policing stories from the meeting see next week’s Recorder.