Dispersal Zone – Update

January 18, 2008

Historically, there have been major problems to the local community in Brixton, caused by drug dealers and drug users for many years. There has been ongoing work by the police and the council and partner agencies to help address these issues, such as Operation Refresh and the Brixton Case Review Panel.

In the last couple of years, residents of Saltoun Road have been experiencing increased levels of crime and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) surrounding drugs. This ASB spills over to the surround roads (Kellett Road and Rushcroft Road)

Following complaints from residents over a prolonged period and extensive consultation with residents and the wider community, in part through the SNP, the implementation of a dispersal zone within a defined area was agreed, to run for 6 months from the end of May.

The SNP has been involved in the process for several months and provided feedback that has led to changes in the proposals, predominantly around the area covered by the zone

Whilst the Panel was fully appreciative of the residents’ situation, there were counterbalancing concerns that the zone could result in perceptions of a heavy handed policing style, particularly with regard to young people. The Panel was also keen that, whilst the dispersal power was on a 24 hour basis, it should be seen to be addressing residents’ main concern which was during evenings, night time and early morning.

For that reason, the police have provided statistical updates at each Panel meeting detail individual (anonymised) dispersal notices issued.
Generally, the numbers of orders issued has not been great – less than one per day over the period. They have been issued predominantly in the evenings/night-time and young people are under-represented. The reasons for dispersal have been generally in line with the expressed concerns of residents.

There has been a reported downside of some displacement in neighbouring streets. There is a proposal to extend the zone to take in Marcus Garvey Way, the Moorlands Estate and the Peace Gardens. The Panel are conscious that too wide a zone can become harder to effectively enforce.

Opposite where I live in Trinity Gardens there is a vacant council property.  The fact that it is has been vacant for over 3 years is surprising.  The fact that it is one of the last council street properties in the area is amazing.  These flats change at prices between £400,000 and £450,000 so this means everyone is waiting and watching.  What and who or is going to be imposed on us this time.  This may seem harsh, but the last time the council rehoused someone in a Brighton Terrace property, the place was a crack den inside of a week.   

The same could be said of the DAAT Centre – what are we going to get?  How is it going to affect us?  The DAAT Centre was imposed upon the residents of Brigton Terrace.  Since then we have been trying to ready ourselves for what might happen.  We have become a string of gated communities with good lighting and secure bin spaces.  Anecdotally at least the number of drug users dropping in to shoot up or smoke their crack seems to have dropped off.  However, news travels fast amongst the drug using community; especially when it takes over two months to get an entryphone system repaired – so stories of prostitutes turning tricks or people smoking crack on the stairwells are beginning to resurface. 

The removal of one telephone box used by drug users in Tunstall Street means that they’ve migrated to the telephone box outside the LloydsTSB Bank in Acre Lane making customers acutely, anxiously, aware when withdrawing cash.

 We, the local community, have been coping with the security measures.  We have been coping with the developers – playing fast and loose with the building requirements – they are not supposed to work at weekends – i.e. they ignored this when it suited them and only stopped when the heavy demolition work had been completed. 

We like SLAM are conscious of the opening date slipping: July became September became October is becoming November and is possibly after Christmas.  We have recently just seen the plans for the Centre.  We are curious as to how things are going to operate and whether we will have input

. We have watched as the dedicated Warden transmuted into a PCSO.  We are sensible enough to realise that what we want is dedicated time rather than one dedicated officer and this is being negotiated.

The new liaison person for the development smarmily told us that in his opinion the residents always settle down after the drug centres/prisons/bail hostels are up and in operation.  I hope he is right.  I hope that the DAAT Centre is like Kryptonite to the chaotic drug users in our vicinity and keeps them at a distance – I’d settle for Brixton Road and Acre Lane.  But – What about the people who will be using the Centre?  The ones trying to change their lives – how will my neighbours and I respond to them when we find them in our lives?  I don’t know?  But we are waiting and watching to see what we get.

No Deal

June 1, 2007

The No Deal operation, directed at street dealing in Brixton Town Centre has now been in place for 17 months. This includes a positive arrest policy in respect of cannabis possession. Monitoring of the police results from the operation has shown: 

  • The majority of those arrested have been over 21 (there was concern that there  would be a preponderance of youth);

  • 50% of those arrested give an address outside the borough;

  • The arrest rate has generally been higher than that historically achieved across Lambeth;

  • Whilst a majority of those arrested have been cannabis associated, there has been a substantial arrest rate for Class A possession and/or dealing.

  • It has proved difficult to track arrests through to court outcomes, systematically and routinely because of inadequacies in IT systems.

 The routine police activity against dealing has been augmented from time to time by more concerted operations, based on extended surveillance and covert intelligence gathering. ‘Operation Kibler’, over the Christmas period 2006, was such an operation which resulted in several arrests of an organised network operating in the Town Centre. The impact on the quality of life in the Town Centre was favourably commented on by residents, users and traders.  There is currently work underway targeting commercial premises used by dealers as bolt-holes.

Over the whole period, community feedback has generally been favourable – that the Town Centre has come some way since December 2005. However, it is clear that street dealing is very resilient, and quickly re-establishes itself if pressure eases off.

During the Autumn, the bulk of the Panel’s meetings were directed first establishing a Constitution and choosing Officers, and exploring the police’s analysis of the patterns of crime and anti-social behaviour in Brixton Town Centre.  At the end of the year, the Panel agreed three priorities for the period going forward. These are due to be revisited – discussions around the Dispersal Zone have dominated recent meetings. The priorities agreed are: 

  • Drugs – dealing and chaotic use;
  • Robbery – muggings, snatch thefts and pick-pocketing
  • Anti-social Behaviour – eg aggressive begging.

Dispersal Zone

June 1, 2007

 In the last couple of years, residents of Saltoun Road have been experiencing increased levels of crime and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) surrounding drugs. This ASB spills over to the surround roads (Kellett Road and Rushcroft Road) 

Following complaints from residents over a prolonged period and extensive consultation with residents and the wider community, in part through the SNP, the implementation of a dispersal zone within a defined area was agreed.  The SNP has been involved in the process for several months and provided feedback that has led to changes in the proposals, predominantly around the area covered by the zone Discussion at the Panel centred around balancing the clear need to support the residents of the residential areas with concerns around freedom to use public spaces and the potential difficulties and conflicts which could emerge from policing too wide a zone.

The Panel considered initial proposals, from the police, for a Town Centre wide zone, 24 hours each day, and proposed instead a zone restricted to the residential streets and Windrush Square, during the night time hours.  The Panel was subsequently persuaded that there would be significant operational and ‘temporal-displacement’ problems with a time restriction, and agreed to support a 24 hr zone, but limited geographically as it had originally suggested.  

The Police have committed to providing the SNP with regular feedback to help monitor the time, location and nature of orders granted. The power to issue orders will in the  main be restricted to officers with experience of the Town Centre or (in the case of probationary officers on ‘Street Duties’ courses, under close supervision of experienced Town Centre Officers. 

The authorisation is for a Section 30 Anti-Social Dispersal Zone of a six month period covering Rushcroft, Saltoun, and Kellett Roads, Vining Street, Rattray Road between Saltoun and Kellett, Electric lane between Rushcroft and Coldharbour and Windrush Square.  The implementation of a dispersal zone in this area will allow police to respond to the serious activities which are of major concern to the residents of this area, by requiring individuals demonstrating ASB to leave the zone for 24hrs. In partnership with the council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team those who breach the terms of the conditions and who are known offenders will be put forward for ASBO’s.

The authorisation will run from May 21 2007, for six months.

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May 25, 2007

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