Mitcham residents call for more police at St Mark's Church public meeting amid fears of crime and anti-social behaviour

Around 250 attended the police meeting in St Mark's Church, Mitcham on Saturday

Around 250 attended the police meeting in St Mark's Church, Mitcham on Saturday

First published in News
Last updated
Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Hundreds of residents have called for ‘more bobbies on the beat’ amid fears crime, alcoholism, drug-dealing and betting shops are driving people out of Mitcham town centre.

More than 200 residents packed into St Mark’s Church on Saturday morning to raise concerns with police and bookie chiefs at a public meeting co-ordinated by MP Siobhain McDonagh.

The meeting comes six weeks after Seth Adu, 26, was found stabbed with critical injuries in Montrose Gardens.

MP McDonagh said: "There have been concerns about safety in the town centre for some time but these concerns have got worse in the last few months and there are people who are choosing to move from the town centre because they think it’s not safe."

"I don’t think there’s a simple solution to this. Yes, I do think policing numbers are an issue and how the town centre looks is an issue and until recently I was sceptical the betting shops were an issue, but so many people tell me they are, I’m beginning to think that’s the case."

Merton police boss Stuart Macleod disputed perceptions of an increase in crime by quoting statistics gathered by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) showing a reduction in crime in Merton.

In response to a question about policing levels at the time of the meeting, Chief Superintendent Macleod said there wasn’t a single police officer patrolling in Mitcham on Saturday morning.

Policing numbers have fallen across the capital since the Government slashed MPS funding by 20 per cent, to save £500m between 2013 and 2015.

For Merton police, ward-dedicated safer neighbhourhood teams (SNTs), staffed by a sergeant, two police constables (PCs) and three police community support officers (PCSOs), have been replaced by neighbourhood policing teams led by a sergeant with responsibility for more than one ward.

Chief Supt Macleod insisted the re-structuring has led to "more officers in neighbourhoods but less officers in wards", with 11 neighbourhood duty officers starting their training in Mitcham on Monday.

Stories of open-air drug-dealing, "threatening" groups of young people drinking on street corners and public urination in the town centre were repeated themes among residents' concerns at the meeting.

A pregnant woman, who bought a house in Mitcham six months ago, said she is considering leaving after a man exposed himself to her in Mitcham town centre.

A grandmother who lives and works in Glebe Court said: "In all the years since I have grown up here we have always had police walking round the ward seeing where the hotspots are, but now the back door has been opened."

Chieft Supt Macleod said: "For anybody to be contemplating leaving the area is just very ,very sad." He tried to reassure residents by pointing to Merton's status as a "controlled drinking zone", allowing police to seize alcohol.

He also announced plans to use powers to ban serial offenders from the borough. But the atmosphere in the church hall only got more heated with one resident calling out: "we're not getting answers".

There are more than 10 betting shops in Mitcham, which residents claim have become hotspots for drug-dealing and anti-social behaviour.

A proliferation of barber shops in the town centre have also become illegal drinking houses during the day, one resident said.

Pointing to betting shop chiefs on the panel, the Glebe Court grandmother added: "My grandchildren are breathing in these drugs all outside your betting shops."

Ladbrookes retail security chief Barry Phillips, said: "Once we put people outside our shops that's a police issue."

Speaking after the meeting, he said after hearing residents' concerns Ladbrookes would pursue a "multi-agency" approach with police and the council to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour outside their branches.

Another resident, who has lived in Mitcham for 50 years, said: "It used to be a really lovely place to be.

"In the last few years it's our belief that the council has made Mitcham a disgusting place.

"We have been promised regeneration will start in the Autumn. But we were told this a year ago and the year before. My question is, how long will it be before these promises are carried out?"

Rediscover Mitcham is an £6.2m project aiming to revitalise the Fair Green and surrounding centre with bus routes and town centre improvement initiatives.

What do you think? Comment below, or call 0208 722 6335, or email louisa.clarence@london.newsquest.co.uk

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:59am Tue 5 Aug 14

trasie says...

Bring back McDonald's. We in Mitcham miss it.
Bring back McDonald's. We in Mitcham miss it. trasie
  • Score: -1

1:41pm Tue 5 Aug 14

clarepg says...

What is the point of having "controlled drinking zones", allowing police to seize alcohol when there are no police patrolling to enforce it! The police seem to turn a blind eye to the anti-social behaviour around Mitcham, the groups of lands that stand around Figges Marsh drinking or in the Halfords car park at night can be very intimidating.
What is the point of having "controlled drinking zones", allowing police to seize alcohol when there are no police patrolling to enforce it! The police seem to turn a blind eye to the anti-social behaviour around Mitcham, the groups of lands that stand around Figges Marsh drinking or in the Halfords car park at night can be very intimidating. clarepg
  • Score: 9

2:43pm Tue 5 Aug 14

tjames says...

£6.2 million about to be wasted--center is turning into a ghetto--how long before the pubs close?
£6.2 million about to be wasted--center is turning into a ghetto--how long before the pubs close? tjames
  • Score: 2

3:39pm Tue 5 Aug 14

Angela M says...

When we were house-hunting, we told the estate agents we wanted to look in Wimbledon, Epsom, Morden and Mitcham. Every one of them told us not to live in Mitcham! I've only been through it on the tram and by car. I think they were right, it looks pretty grim.
When we were house-hunting, we told the estate agents we wanted to look in Wimbledon, Epsom, Morden and Mitcham. Every one of them told us not to live in Mitcham! I've only been through it on the tram and by car. I think they were right, it looks pretty grim. Angela M
  • Score: 6

6:23pm Tue 5 Aug 14

Citizene says...

There ARE far too FEW police officers and PCSO`s in Merton since the Tory/Lib government came to power...not in their wards though...THAT is for sure...but when offenders are caught there`s rarely any satisfactory justice anyway...the whole idea of "justice" is laughable as far as most people are concerned.
There ARE far too FEW police officers and PCSO`s in Merton since the Tory/Lib government came to power...not in their wards though...THAT is for sure...but when offenders are caught there`s rarely any satisfactory justice anyway...the whole idea of "justice" is laughable as far as most people are concerned. Citizene
  • Score: 4

6:58am Wed 6 Aug 14

Michael Barltrop says...

Our present borough commander has the best CV of any police chief we have ever had running the force in Merton. We are very lucky to have him. However it is important to remember that he above politics. The figures he quoted at Siobhain's meeting were raw data that includes Saturday night drunks. I know as many police officers as he does and if you look at the breakdown of the figures they tell the story in reverse. The issue is violent crime and those figures will hit the La Grange point between Earth and the Moon sometime early in 2015. Happily coincident with the general election. As well as declaring all out war on the Met, the Tories are also transferring critical security responsibilities from the Met's anti-terrorism command to the new NCA. But the FBI took fifteen years to set up and it was twenty before they stopped doing undercover work dressed in black suits. It will take the NCA at least twenty years to set up intelligence systems and the community trust required to deliver any sort of early warning at a level remotely comparable to the existing systems currently in place, and proven to be effective, that are run by the Met. Community trust is vital for that role. We live in a world of dirty bombs and sarin gas. The Iraquis exterminated a Kurd village, over a radius of ten miles using a small cropduster aircraft. The ultimate WMD because there is no possible defence except Defence Intelligence. The very services that penny-pinching sub-educated morons are currently dismantling. What you see happening in Mitcham and Wimbledon is the tip of the iceburg. And it really is a deadly threat to us all.
Our present borough commander has the best CV of any police chief we have ever had running the force in Merton. We are very lucky to have him. However it is important to remember that he above politics. The figures he quoted at Siobhain's meeting were raw data that includes Saturday night drunks. I know as many police officers as he does and if you look at the breakdown of the figures they tell the story in reverse. The issue is violent crime and those figures will hit the La Grange point between Earth and the Moon sometime early in 2015. Happily coincident with the general election. As well as declaring all out war on the Met, the Tories are also transferring critical security responsibilities from the Met's anti-terrorism command to the new NCA. But the FBI took fifteen years to set up and it was twenty before they stopped doing undercover work dressed in black suits. It will take the NCA at least twenty years to set up intelligence systems and the community trust required to deliver any sort of early warning at a level remotely comparable to the existing systems currently in place, and proven to be effective, that are run by the Met. Community trust is vital for that role. We live in a world of dirty bombs and sarin gas. The Iraquis exterminated a Kurd village, over a radius of ten miles using a small cropduster aircraft. The ultimate WMD because there is no possible defence except Defence Intelligence. The very services that penny-pinching sub-educated morons are currently dismantling. What you see happening in Mitcham and Wimbledon is the tip of the iceburg. And it really is a deadly threat to us all. Michael Barltrop
  • Score: -9

8:49am Wed 6 Aug 14

tjames says...

ignore mb--hes a labor agitator--we have enough police--just rarely seen
ignore mb--hes a labor agitator--we have enough police--just rarely seen tjames
  • Score: -1

8:50am Wed 6 Aug 14

tjames says...

mitcham town center on fridays is grim
mitcham town center on fridays is grim tjames
  • Score: 2

5:15pm Fri 8 Aug 14

annehastings46@hotmail.com says...

I have lived in Mitcham for more than 65 years. We use to do all our shopping there when we had a good shopping center.
Now I only come to Mitcham if I have to,I just don't don't feel safe.
I am sure I once interrupted a drug deal. I agree with the Estate Agents (see above) I would move away if I could.


PS. No Poppy's in Mitcham
I have lived in Mitcham for more than 65 years. We use to do all our shopping there when we had a good shopping center. Now I only come to Mitcham if I have to,I just don't don't feel safe. I am sure I once interrupted a drug deal. I agree with the Estate Agents (see above) I would move away if I could. PS. No Poppy's in Mitcham annehastings46@hotmail.com
  • Score: 1

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