Dozens of police officers flooded Thornton Heath station with train passengers having to walk through a knife arch as part of their journey this morning (Weds).
The show of force was presumably to show police are doing all they can to tackle escalating knife crime in the capital.
The 16 plus officers who were mainly from British Transport Police put the arch in the station foyer in front of the ticket barriers and were there until around 9.30am.
The operation which comes ahead of a meeting tomorrow (Thurs) called by the borough commander to discuss knife crime and violent crime in Thornton Heath, received mixed messages from the public some who objected to the mob handed tactics.
“Got to Thornton Heath Station to find around a dozen police officers and what appears to be a large metal detector at the entrance…?! How is that acceptable :/”
“They’re wasting resources with this propaganda. Put up one detector at a commuter station during commuter hours and make the tax payers think police are doing something constructive.”
While others welcomed it: “I think it’s a really good thing, and should be happening everywhere, we have come to the point that knife crime seems to becoming a craze and something needs to be done to stop it. Six more stabbings last night…”
Borough commander Chief Supt Dave Springer has called a public meeting to address and allay fears of a perceived escalation in violent and knife crime in Thornton Heath tomorrow (Thurs).
The meeting comes after two men in their 20s were stabbed in separate incidents on Thornton Heath High Street and in the car park outside Croydon’s Brit school in Selhurst this month.
Hurriedly arranged by Chief Supt Stringer, it comes amid concerns about a rise in violent crime and anti social behaviour, which makes up almost half of all crime in Thornton Heath in the last year.
Revealingly though of 1,978 reported crimes only 52 suspects were pursued by the police with 37 ending in court and13 jail. Just four fixed penally tickets were issued for ASB during the same 12 months.
Chief Supt Stringer’s public meeting on Thursday (March 28), at Winterbourne Youth Centre at 6pm, was called at such short notice that Thornton Heath Safer Neighbourhood team cancelled the long standing community ward panel on Monday to prioritise the senior officer’s meeting.
A similar meeting was also held in New Addington today (Weds) but contrasting posters advertising the two events (pictured) sent out a confusing message about the way police engage with the community.
Chair of the Safer Neighbourhood Donna Murray Turner, posted on Twitter: “The disparity between presentation style for engaging local community members in the same borough is blatant.”
Donna, who founded Another Night of Sisterhood (ANOS), which is at the forefront of grass roots community engagement, told The Chronicle she was ‘surprised’ and ‘disappointed’ not to have been informed about the borough commander’s meeting and with less than a week’s notice it gave little time to: “inform the community and galvanise more disengaged members to attend.”
In January the Chronicle revealed the ward has the third worst crime rate in the borough.
Police blame lack of resources for their inability to tackle daily begging, street drinking, open drug dealing, public urination and defecation in and around the High Street, which frequently goes unchallenged.
The number of police community support officers has been cut from 251 to 30 for the whole borough since 2010, which has had a huge impact particularly on Safer Neighbourhood Teams, who operate with just two PCs and a PCSO.
There was some hope when the police station on Parchmore Road looked as though it was set to reopen but even that failed and now local police are based over 20 minutes away on Windmill Road.
In the last month police arrested a drunken man at 5pm on Sunday who was urinating in the street in front of a horrified family.
Another witness saw a known street drinker urinating on the door of the historic Clock Tower at 11am on a week day and the same man was seen defecating in the street.
Businesses are also being affected but police appear reluctant to take action against ‘low level’ crime.
A shop window smashed by a known offender was caught on CCTV but within 24 hours the case was closed with no further action being taken. Drug dealing is so blatant that one man was found shooting up in a business toilet trailing blood on the floor.
Staff in another shop reported seeing a fight on the street outside where a knife was pulled and dropped to the floor before the assailant fled.
• Youth groups Music Relief and the Lions Society are launching anti knife crime initiatives in the next month with a booklet and poster launches (pictured).