THORNTON Heath has been identified as a priority area for action in the borough’s community safety strategy because it is high in crime and the cause of crime.

The plan sets out the objectives for tackling violence, domestic abuse and anti social behaviour over the coming three years.

But it also focuses on what it calls nine high priority neighbourhoods with the wards of Thornton Heath, West Thornton, Selhurst, Broad Green and Norbury cited as priority targets.

The 2020 to 2024 draft strategy, which was delayed by over a year, highlights that in these particularly wards repeat offenders represent 20 per cent of all suspects but commit more than 40 per cent of the crime in Croydon.

Violence represents around a third of all crime in the borough which this year has seen the devastating impact of knife crime on young people with the murders of three teenagers, the youngest just 14.

As we went to press a business on the High Street became the latest victim of violent crime with the front door smashed.

The draft strategy sets out how Croydon adopted a public health approach to violence reduction in 2019 with  the council securing significant external funding and committing resources to implementing a public health approach to reducing violence but in 2020, there was an 11 per cent increase in the number of violent offences in Croydon, the highest total in the capital. This significant rise, says the report is largely attributable to an increase in domestic abuse, fuelled by lockdowns. 

Conservative Cllr Andy Stranack Shadow Cabinet Member for Safer Croydon, speaking at the council cabinet meeting last month was critical of the delays to the report and its findings: “I think the officers have been very good at giving us specific statistics at the beginning of the report, but it doesn’t really cover up Labour’s failures in tackling crime since they took control of the council in 2014. Overall crime is up 37 per cent, sexual offences are up 142 per cent violence against the person up 89 per cent.”

Even though there has been a decrease in crime volume in 2020 compared to 2019, by comparing 2020 to 2017 the overall crime rate in Croydon rose by five per cent and violent crime rate increased by 19 pc and the domestic abuse 26 per cent

Anti social behaviour related calls to the police in Croydon increased by five per cent between 2017 and 2019 and during 2020 rocketed by 85 per cent which is mostly attributed to Covid-19.

Two surveys targeting younger residents and women and girls with the purpose of identifying safety issues revealed that the two areas they chose to avoid because they felt most unsafe was West Croydon and Thornton Heath.

Superintendent Andy Britain Superintendent for Partnership and Neighbourhood Policing in Croydon said knife crime still remains ‘our number one priority’, but added: “Rather than just going through the enforcement route, though, we’ve be working really hard to do the community engagement route and build the trust and confidence. So the work we’ve been doing in West Croydon in the CVA we’re now taken to New Addington, and then we’ll be looking to do the same in Thornton Heath to bring together those smaller community groups and to get them in a room and start talking about solutions and how we move forward.” 

Meanwhile the council is under fire over speculation that it will pull funding from a vital youth service.

Legacy Youth Zone costs £1.8 million a year to run and in turn provides thousands of the borough’s young people with activities and support.

In March, Legacy may lose the £300,000 a funding it has been receiving from the cash strapped council since it opened its doors in 2019.

Last month legacy launched a major fundraising drive with a mystery donor pledging to match all community monthly donations over the next year.

Since opening the charity has recruited over 100 youth workers and volunteers offering activities such as music production, sports, performing arts, climbing and cooking. 

Alongside the activities it offers support to young people and their families facing challenges such as food poverty, physical and mental health, youth crime and employment.

Croydon has the largest population of young people in London and this year has seen the horrific murders of three teenage boys.

Jermaine Cools 14-year-old (pictured top left) died after he was attacked on London Road a month ago with his killers still at large.

Damarie Omare Roye, 16, (pictured bottom)was murdered on Bensham Manor Road and Camron Smith on his doorstep in Shrublands over the summer 

Last Wednesday (Dec 8), the main entrance to Legacy was closed due to a stabbing in neighbouring Whitehorse Road Recreation Ground with young people being asked to meet youth workers outside Halfords for directions for an alternate walk to the youth zone.

Officers found a 25-year-old man suffering from stab injuries on Windmill Road and immediately provided first aid and he was taken ambulance to hospital for treatment with non  life-threatening injuries. He had been assaulted in the Rec.

A spokeswoman for Legacy said: “We are saddened by the recent number of crimes in our area. 

“We recognise that this is a community wide issue which we all play a part in, and our team are trying to be more prominent throughout Selhurst, Thornton Heath and Croydon.”

The youth facility says it is ‘still in negotiations’ with the council and ‘haven’t yet formalised an agreement on their continued funding support’. 

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