in Community Safety, Regeneration, Weekly report

Weekly wrap-up, 18 September

St John's Hill Festival - balloonsSt John’s Hill Festival
I’m cheating a bit with this week’s photo, since it’s not mine, but was taken by Emma Jane Clark at last Sunday’s St John’s Hill Festival. I’ve used it without permission but hope she doesn’t mind because I really like it.

And congratulations to everyone involved in putting the festival on. It was a great day and, like all the other festivals, carnivals and street parties being put on in our town centres this year really showed the strength of our businesses despite the recession. It’s also with a sense of shame that I have to admit to finally trying Fish Club. It’s one of those places (note how I resisted the ‘plaice’ pun) that is perhaps just a little too out of my way, but given my background – of coming from the fish and chip capital of the world – it’s criminal I’d not given them a go… and they weren’t found wanting. I had a superb haddock and chips with mushy peas, and for me to say that is saying something!

Roehampton Street Drinkers
I’ve been involved in discussions about these for some time, but these are now becoming public – especially since a public meeting held by the police on the issue last week. There has been a problem with street drinkers in the area for some time, which appears to be worsening. Stuart King, the Labour candidate, has picked up on this and is now calling for the council and police to move them on to another area (although he doesn’t specify exactly where he thinks they should be street-drinking).

The council is looking at a real, long term, solution, that doesn’t involve restricting everyone’s rights to enjoy the green spaces in the area and doesn’t just move the problems of addiction from one area to another. We have been using Equinox as outreach workers, with some success, in the area for some time, helping the drinkers conquer their alcohol addiction and are looking at what sort of enforcement we can take with individuals to ensure those less willing to face their problems.

We’re currently in talks with the police (who would be responsible for the enforcement side) to ensure the resources are there to make sure both elements of the carrot and stick approach work.

Gun crime and violence in Wandsworth
Of course, a lot of my time and attention has been taken up by the recent spate of violent crime in Wednesday, I wrote about this in a post on Wednesday and do not want to repeat myself. However, I do want to repeat the central point I made that Wandsworth has been, and remains, a relatively safe borough in London terms.

This is not to belittle the seriousness of the events and shouldn’t be taken to mean that they are not being taken seriously. However, if there is any solace to be taken from gang-related crime it is that it tends to remain inter- and intra-gang and, except in rare cases, members of the general public remain unaffected.

Like I say, this is not to say the council or the police do not take it seriously and are not working hard to arrest those responsible and prevent further incidents, but it does mean that headlines like the Wandsworth Guardian‘s ‘Carnage on the streets’ are very wide of the mark. There is no more reason to worry about going about your daily business this week than there was last week.

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