‘Angry and exhausted’ residents confront police and council

police officer speaking at public meeting
Superintendent Gabriel Cameron at the meeting. Pictures: ©Janina Struk

Local resident groups yesterday (27 September) met to demand action from the police and Lambeth council over anti-social behaviour in Brixton that many believe is as bad as it has ever been.

They also heard that local police are 20 officers short.

“Drug taking, drug dealing, and anti-social behaviour, including public defecation on residents’ doorsteps, is totally out of control, with kids forced to confront drug users on their own doorsteps after school,” the organisers of the meeting said.

More than 50 “angry and exhausted” residents packed into Papa’s Park hall to confront police and councillors about the increasing and alarming incidence of crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB).

They were a broad mix of local residents’ associations, youth clubs, local businesses and more, and have called themselves Action on ASB!

They say their mission is to get the police and council to pay attention to growing concern about increasing lawlessness in Brixton, which also includes an increase in shoplifting.

Listening to their concerns were Lambeth Metropolitan police superintendent Gabriel Cameron and colleagues, and representatives of Lambeth council including Cllr Mahamed Hashi, council cabinet member for safer communities, and Nigel Lambert, the councii’s assistant director of public protection. Michael Smith, operations manager for the Brixton Business Improvement District (BID) was also there.

man addresses public meeting
Brixton BID operations manager Michael Smith. Picture: ©Janina Struk

Residents expressed dismay at the apparent lack of action being taken on increasing crime in the Brixton area, and told of several incidents of great concern.

One resident said his 11-year-old daughter came home from school last week and had to ask three men who were taking crack on her home doorway to move so she could go inside.

Residents of Brixton Terrace, next to the police station, shared photographs of faeces-covered doorsteps where addicts smoke crack in broad daylight.

The meeting heard that British Transport Police are funding private security guards around the station, and that Brixton businesses are funding private security guards for the town centre. 

Residents of Rushcroft Road told of their hard times with drug users, and of dealers congregating nearby outside the Ritzy cinema and in Windrush Square, making it impossible for them to feel safe in their own street.

Paramedics attend to a man collapsed in Rushcroft Road in August last year. Picture: ©Brixton Media

One local community representative implored the police. the council and local residents to work together to ensure a grass roots approach – ensuring young people have access to sports and support to avoid falling into criminal activity.

Other residents called for genuine community engagement and a seat at the table in building strategies for tackling crime and ASB.

The mood was one of anger, frustration and exhaustion, organisers said.

One speaker said: “It’s worse than before the Brixton riots. Something has to be done.”

Another said community efforts over the last 30 years were now “tumbling down”.

Clir Hashi agreed that levels of ASB are the worst he has ever seen. He apologised on behalf of the council and promised better community engagement in the future

It was revealed during the meeting that the local police force currently has 20 open positions for officers. Superintendent Cameron outlined how he planned to resource his team and to ensure greater policing levels. 

Action on ASB! said its members would ramp up the momentum and intensity of their campaign until improvements are made and meaningful action is taken, holding the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth council to account.

To keep up to date with the campaign, to learn more or to get involved, contact the organisers at AOASB@outlook.com