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Beggars fleeing crackdown in Ilford moving to South Woodford despite PSPO plea

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 May 2017

South Woodford landmarks. George Lane

South Woodford landmarks. George Lane

Archant

Not enough has been done to prevent a large influx of beggars who have now been banned from Ilford coming to South Woodford, residents fear.

On Monday a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) came into effect in Ilford town centre, giving the authorities more powers to tackle begging and other anti-social behaviour.

And now, beggars who used to frequent Ilford High Road appear to have made their way to the streets of South Woodford.

Cllr Emma Best, who represents Church End, congratulated officers on their “fantastically good” work in Ilford town centre, but stressed it should not come at the detriment to other areas of the borough.

She said: “It really shows what good can be done by collaboratively working to make a situation better, but I do think there is an issue with displacement.

“I’ve spoken to a few beggars on George Lane and they all say they’ve come from Ilford. I don’t know if enough has been done to protect the area.”

Cllr Best told a meeting of Redbridge Council’s external scrutiny committee that she had noticed more aggressive begging and low level drug dealing in the area recently.

“I think the fairest thing that could happen next would be for us to mirror what has happened in Ilford in South Woodford,” she argued.

But Redbridge Council’s head of civic pride and enforcement, John Richards, revealed that the option to impose a PSPO on South Woodford had already been explored.

He said: “In September we, along with our partners in the Met, looked at applying for a PSPO for Wanstead and South Woodford and there just weren’t enough reports to justify that kind of expenditure.”

He went on to say that the more reports of aggressive begging were received the more likely it was something would be done, and urged members of the public to report beggars.

Met Sgt Lee Wilkinson agreed that at the moment the resources were not available to impose another PSPO, but would not rule one out in the future.

He said: “We all want a safer and better Redbridge and I think PSPOs will keep our officers out on the streets and will help us do this as far as our resources will allow.”

Representatives of the Met and British Transport Police also revealed they had not expected South Woodford to be affected by any displaced crime or anti-social behaviour because it is not on the same train line as Ilford station.

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