Cyclists had a quiet summer on the cycle route through the Somers Town area due to a curfew on local youths. But when this curfew was lifted, the attacks started again. Since October, many attacks on cyclists have been reported. These attacks generally occur in Ossulston Street or in Polygon Road.
In order to help the police and local community take effective action, please inform the police of all incidents to ensure that they get an accurate picture of the scale of the problem – unfortunately under-reporting means that their view is of the odd isolated incident rather than the near epidemic taking place. You should of course use 999 to report serious incidents.
Please also email details of incidents to
• police.patrols AT btopenworld.com which is managed by Susan Close, in her capacity as Chair of the Community Guided Police Patrol (who decide where over 50 hours of additional policing a week is deployed within the Camden Central SRB area ) and
• copy Cllr Sybil Shine and Paul Gasson.
Include time, place, and give any detail you can on what, who, how – eg can you describe any assailant, were any phrases or actions used, number plate of any motor bike.
Susan Close has offered third party reporting (she will sanitise the info so you cannot be identified) and pass it onto the police on your behalf if you wish. I can provide her telephone number if you need it.
There has been much support from a number of sources following CCC reports of incidents affecting cyclists using the cycle route through Somers Town:
- Susan Close (see above)
- Local councillors Roger Robinson and Sybil Shine as well as Julian Fulbrook have been active in demanding action from the council. It is in difficulty as the previous ASBOs were brought in without adequate consultation and they are afraid of backlash. Although they are prepared to use the law on the ringleaders, they want to tackle the root cause.
- Stefano Casalotti wrote to to Cllr Anna Stewart of the Community Safety Team.He has had a reply to his letter (from an assistant).
Is it still safe to cycle in Somers Town?
This of course must be a personal decision and we can only give advice and cannot take responsibility for what you may experience.
However we at CCC believe that you should not be discouraged from using the route. If you feel intimidated you may wish to wait for other cyclists at either end of the route and cycle in convoy. Most attacks have been on single cyclists. And as described above please report any incidents to the police and more general improvements/ deterioration/suggestion to us. As an organisation we intend to persist in ensuring that the area becomes safer, but we are also prepared to participate in community action to solve the root cause of the problem.
Press Release from Camden Council, 24 November 2004
Media Contact: Susannah Brown, Camden Council press office on 020 7974 2464
EXTRA POLICE POWERS FOR A SAFER CHRISTMAS (immediate 24/11/04)
Camden Council and Camden Police have agreed extra police powers to curb anti-social behaviour and crime in Somers Town and Regents Park, North London over the Christmas period.
Both council and police agreed to implement a dispersal notice in these areas after a successful scheme in Somers Town over the summer saw crime rates plummet. The police action will run alongside long-term projects to tackle the roots of crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.
The extra powers under the dispersal notice allow police to ban intimidating groups of people causing anti-social behaviour from designated areas for up to 24 hours to prevent trouble escalating and to protect residents. In addition, unaccompanied children under 16 years found in the zone after 9pm could be taken home to their parents or guardians. Those who are banned will not receive a criminal record but face arrest if they refuse to leave.
The powers will come into effect from 1 December and last throughout the Christmas period until 28 February 2005.
During the summer, Camden Council and the police tested out the new powers in the Somers Town and Camden Town areas of the borough. An evaluation of the schemes showed dramatic reductions in crime compared to the previous year, and revealed strong support from the local community and police officers.
In Somers Town, robbery was cut by 60 per cent, actual bodily harm by 66 per cent and theft from motor vehicles by 70 per cent from the previous year.
Cllr Anna Stewart, Executive Member for Community Safety at Camden Council said:
“Residents in Somers Town and Regents Park are calling for these extra powers to help the police curb serious anti-social behaviour in the area. Camden Council has responded by authorising these powers that really helped to cut down crime over the summer months. While using these strong powers, we will be working hard to prevent youth offending and provide activities for young people in the area so that we can see more young people feeling safe to play on the streets – not fewer. The use of these powers will provide residents with a respite and the council and police the opportunity to continue working on longer-term solutions to the problems.”
Superintendent Gordon Allan, Camden Police added:
“The success of the dispersal zones in the summer proved the value of this as a tactic to reduce anti social behaviour and improve quality of life for those living and working in the affected areas. We are determined to ensure that people of all ages can go about their business without being inconvenienced by bad behaviour in their neighbourhoods. As before, the power will be used sensitively and only when necessary. This activity will not be to the detriment of normal policing, and we shall be alert to any incidence of displacement, which will be promptly addressed. Camden Police are committed to joint working with Camden Council towards long-term solutions.”
Problems with crime and anti-social behaviour have risen in the Somers Town area since the first three-month scheme finished in September, including some attacks on cyclists commuting through the area.
Stefano Casalotti, Joint Coordinator, Camden Cycling Campaign added:
“The cycle route through Somers Town is very useful and popular, however, it has increasingly become more dangerous because of the behaviour of a small number of youths who deliberately attack cyclists. We observed an improvement of the situation this summer while the dispersal notice was in force. Such dispersal notices can only be a temporary measure but we regrettably find ourselves in a position to have to support re-instating this notice. The Camden Cycling Campaign wants to take a proactive stance to solve this problem and believe that by encouraging cyclists to continue to use the route, we are contributing to the overall safety of the area.”
The boundaries of the area where the dispersal powers can be used will run along parts of the Euston Road, Pancras and Crowndale Roads, Camden High Street, Delancey Street, Parkway, Albany Street, Osnaburgh Terrace and Osnaburgh Street, to protect residents and people passing through. This is a wider area than the original dispersal notice over the summer, which covered parts of Somers Town only, and includes areas of neighbouring Regents Park where the police have identified issues of anti-social behaviour.
Local police who know the areas will be responsible for enforcing the zones. As with the summer schemes, extra patrols will be stepped up around the zone boundaries to avoid displacing anti-social activity.
Projects to prevent youth crime will work alongside the new powers to address the root causes of crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.
Email from Cllr Anna Stewart to Stefano Casalotti (with permission to post here)
Dec 8,2004 Dear Mr Casalotti
Further to your email to regarding the appalling attacks on cyclists,including yourself, on the cycle route through Somers Town I am writing to inform you about the work the Council and Camden Borough Police have done tocombat this and other anti-social behaviour in the area.
Somers Town and in particular Ossulston Street has seen reports of antisocial behaviour concerning young people for a number of years. Whilst the type of behaviour has changed over time there has been a worrying trend recently of ‘attacking and harassing’ pedal cyclists using the designated cycle lane and use of stolen mopeds. This came to notice earlier this year and was a central feature of the first Dispersal Notice that Camden agreed to.
Dispersal Notices are a police power (under section 30 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003) that permits the police to disperse groups of two or more people engaged in anti-social behaviour. It also provides the police with the power to return young people (aged under 16 years) to their homes who are unsupervised in public places after 9pm. The police will be using the power very carefully and sensitively and only when they believe that a group is causing or likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress to local residents. It is not a curfew or blanket ban but intended to allow everyone to feel safer in their local area. This Notice took place between 22nd June 2004 and 17th September 2004 and was considered extremely successful.
You are probably aware that Camden Council has agreed an application from the Police for a new Dispersal Notice covering parts of Somers Town and Regents Park. We hope that this Dispersal Notice will be as successful as the previous Notice at reducing crime and anti-social behaviour and will be welcomed by those living and working in the area. A key feature of the Notice will be how police will engage with local youth provision, community groups and local councilors to ensure that sustainable solutions are put in place.
The Community safety team have been in close discussion with Camden Police,the local Sector Team, the Environment Department, Youth Services, Housing and the Anti-social Behaviour Group (ASBAG) to ensure that the problem about how to best tackle this and other anti-social behaviour problems in the area.
The police have stepped up patrols by local officers and have been assisted by Traffic Officers to target the youths who were particularly engaged in riding stolen scooters. The police believe that these issues are linked to the attacks on cyclists in terms of the youths involved.
Local police and Housing staff have attended the location to ensure that the CCTV located in Coopers Lane can be used and to ensure that additional CCTV is situated to assist. The police have also arranged for static observation points and the use of the CCTV van. The aim of the operation was to identify the youths involved and then take the appropriate action e.g. prosecution or an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).
Youth Services have taken steps to identify any young people who may be involved in this activity and to ensure that their outreach work is focused on this problem
Some of the young people involved are thought to be from local Housing Association property and Camden Town District Housing Office is working closely with them.
A local youth strongly believed to be involved in a major way has been recommended by the local YISP (Youth Inclusion and Support Panel) for an ASBO, the application for this ASBO goes to court in January 2005. As part of this process a strong indication is given through home visits (8th November), to him and other youths, that action is being taken and they are being identified.
Another ASBO is also in the pipeline for gang related activity in Somers Town – although not scooter specific it is part of the overall problem.
On 22nd November Camden’s Head of Community Safety convened a meeting of local police, Community Safety officers, Youth Services and Environment to discuss what more we can do either in the short term but also as a longer term response to this problem. They will also be meeting community groups to address other issues that have been identified by them.
The Environment Department has a programme of work to change the lighting from sodium units to white light. The latter is a brighter and more effective light unit and they have instructed the Engineers to investigate whether we can replace the bulbs on all of the streets on the Somers Town cycle route (i.e. Ossulston Street, Polygon Road (between Purchase Street and Ossulston Street), Purchese Street and Goldington Crescent). The priority being the short section on Polygon Road where the assault took place and where there is no through traffic. The assessment work will take place in the next few weeks. This work has now been ordered and is expected to take place within the next month.
I hope that you feel re-assured that we are taking the problems in Somers Town and the attacks on cyclists very seriously and are doing everything we can, in partnership with the police, to try and combat the problem.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further queries or concerns.
Cllr Anna Stewart Executive Member for Community Safety