Redbridge Council sets aside £320k to fund late-night patrols in Ilford town centre

Chairman of Redbridge Neighbourhood Watch Mark Glazer. Picture: Ken Mears

Chairman of Redbridge Neighbourhood Watch Mark Glazer. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A new council-funded task force dedicated to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in Ilford town centre has been branded “ludicrous” by the borough’s neighbourhood watch chairman.

Coming into force in spring 2020, a frontline team of 17 council enforcement officers and police will be providing high visibility evening and late-night patrols, seven days a week.

Redbridge Council said it will be the first team of its kind in the borough to be given a wide range of powers, including making arrests.

Set up through a £320,000 funding pot, the council said the team will crack down on aggressive begging, street scammers, bogus traders, street drinkers and late-night anti-social behaviour.

The team will also be focused on Ilford Lane to help tackle prostitution and pop-up brothels in the area.

The council confirmed that the pot of money has been set aside to fund its enforcement officers on the team.

Mark Glazer, chairman of Redbridge Neighbourhood Watch, described the amount being spent on the taskforce as "ludicrous" and said resources should to be directed elsewhere in the borough.

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"If you keep approaching the same problem with the same actions, you will get the same results," he said.

"They have been trying to sort out prostitution in Ilford Lane for years and throwing police at the issue will not help.

"Ilford Station seems to be where the council put all their resources. They are not putting their resources where they need to be.

"They will put these teams wherever they want and they don't consult on what people think beforehand.

"Resources need to put into engaging with the community - to educate the people, make them more aware of what's going on.

"This is not a long lasting solution."

Leader of the Council Cllr Jas Athwal said tackling crime and anti-social behaviour is a top priority for the council and launching the taskforce is "absolutely the right thing for us to do".

"Investing in extra resources on the frontline of the fight against criminal behaviour, is absolutely the right thing for us to do as a council," he said.

"Our new multi-agency team will be up and running from spring and will have greater powers to help stamp out the illegal elements in and around Ilford Town Centre.

"We want Ilford to be a place where people can come to enjoy a night out at the theatre, dinner with friends, and experience a buzzing social atmosphere, with all the amenities of a modern, vibrant town centre."