Brixton meeting launches alliance for action on crime

public meeting

At a packed meeting in Brixton, two leading local community organisations launched an alliance to press the police and Lambeth council for more effective action to combat crime and anti-social behaviour and to support people in need.

Pastor Lorraine Jones-Burrell, CEO of the Dwayne Simpson Foundation, and Donna Sinclair, CEO of young people’s charity Options 4 Change, said people could no longer “suffer in silence”.

At Loughborough Park Community Centre, Pastor Lorraine said it was 10 years since her son Dwayne Simpson had been killed in Brixton as a result of knife crime.

But, she said, “this is the worst I have seen. It’s become so dangerous and toxic that our children are killing each other and we have become isolated with our trauma and we’re suffering in silence.

“We’re not going to sit down and just listen to all this pain, dry all these tears, go to court, go contact the police, contact the council, just ourselves.

“We need to form an alliance where we can do this together with like-minded people that have more of an effect because it is so terrible.”

Donna Sinclair said that, too often, she and her staff found themselves in the High Court battling local authorities to stop someone’s children being taken from them and to have a local authority discharge its responsibility to people who were in need and in crisis.

When the charity went to court it was because the local authority had acted unlawfully.

“It’s got to this because of collective systems failures,” she said.

“You only have to walk down to Brixton market, the Tube station, the high street, and look at the level of dysfunction. The mental health, the drug addiction, the children out on their own at all hours. 

“I can’t see any outreach workers. Yes, there is antisocial behavior. Yes, there is drug taking. Who’s looking after them? 

“These people have very special needs, and when those needs are not met, expect disruption.

“The same for our children as well. When their needs are not met, expect disruption.

“Why is that we have a society that is very happy and willing to put a five-year-old out of school and label that child as not being good enough or being too disruptive, or having children who can go to the Christmas party, but they’re not allowed to eat any of the food there.

“I’m not giving isolated examples. I could go on and on and on,” said Donna Sinclair.

“What we have is the result of all these systems failures. I just wanted to give some basics as a springboard for us to think about the need for an alliance that we’re trying to form today.

“It’s so critical that we look at root causes and see how we’re going to be champions of change,” she said.

“What we’re using this meeting to do is to empower ourselves moving forward where we have an alliance that can hold the statutory providers to accountability,” said Pastor Lorraine.

One speaker at the meeting said she had recently opened a shop just off Atlantic Road.

“Since opening the shop, I am noticing the addiction problem. It’s very concerning because I open the shop on a Sunday. I’m the only one there. I’ve got these people coming into the alley, trying to do what they’re doing. I’ve got no other shopkeepers there. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”

Responding, Donna Sinclair said: “This is a major concern. The addiction, the rough sleeping is growing rapidly in Brixton. The drug pushing is a matter of absolute serious concern.

“I am telling you that if it was Westminster, if it was Kensington and Chelsea – the royal boroughs – they would not have it on their streets. We have been left by our local authority.

“We must not forget that those people who are on the streets doing the drugs, the mental health issues, the begging, they’re exceptionally vulnerable people who have not been served by the local authorities, who have not been protected by the police, who are daily exploited.

“Something else is the primal behaviours that they are perpetrating, defecating on doorsteps, defecating openly in public, spitting in people’s faces without any provocation whatsoever – and we are just left.

“So I want everyone to understand, we’re not here for joke business this evening. This is serious.”

There had been a community police consultative group (CPCG) in Lambeth, followed by all other London boroughs, that held their police services to account, said Donna Sinclair. But this had been scrapped by Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London.

“Since then, we’ve seen crime that’s just rocketed. And there is no forum where the police or Lambeth [council] in terms of, say, community safety, are being held to account.

“Collectively, we are powerful. And that’s why we’re here this evening.”

But there was not a unified body in Lambeth that was holding statutory services, like social services, housing and education to account.

“We’re not asking for favours, we’re asking you to do what is written in law,” she told the council.

“The purpose of us being here this evening is for us to form an alliance – Lambeth Alliance for Community Action. We feel that that is a vessel that will carry critical messages to the council so they will know when we are OK with them and when we are not OK with them.”

The alliance will have two principal aims: 

  • first, to facilitate a forum for the purpose of bringing Lambeth residents and stakeholders together to address matters of concern to them and their communities;
  • second, to empower, engage, and provide opportunities for members of the alliance and residents to hold Lambeth council and Lambeth police services accountable for discharging their statutory duties.


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