ASB update

At February 2023 GLERA residents’ meeting, Jacqueline Swanson, reports back on efforts to make headway on concerns around ASB.

At last summer’s AGM it was clear that residents were unhappy at the level of anti-social behaviour coming onto and around the estate and finding their attempts to report it frustrating.

Towards the end of the summer Tracy Batten of Cuthbert Harrowing and I got together to work out how to tackle this pretty knotty situation. We figured we’d start with getting a picture of the reality of ASB issues – rogue filming, fly tipping, drug dealing, noisy motor bikes, uber drivers congregating etc. So we asked Cuthbert Harrowing residents to keep a one week long diary of anti-social behaviour. More than half the residents joined in and it was really helpful as the diaries showed not only the number of incidents but just how many people were affected by each. So, thank you to everyone who joined in and especially Tracy for galvanising everyone. These were the basis on which we were then able to show various parties that there really is a problem.

Tracy and I also attended the October Barbican Cluster policing panel, which is where we met PC Russell Pengelly and Inspector Joe Easterbrook. Russell has a particular interest in designing out crime. My impression was that our Community Police officers really did want to help us but there were some ‘blockages’ in the pipes somewhere.

So – this is where we were at for last October’s meeting, making some progress but already feeling like things weren’t as joined up as they should be.

And this is where we get to say a big thank you to our MP Nickie Aiken who as promised at October’s GLERA meeting organised an estate walkabout with Chief Constable, Angela McClaren, Police Authority Chairman James Thomson and PC Ali, Tracy and myself. It was a sort of Mr Muscle moment… since then things really have moved along quite quickly.

Just a day or two after the walkabout Nickie wrote to Chris Hayward, Policy Chairman for the City, asking for improvements to lighting, signage and CCTV.

In December I met with Russell and Joe who I mentioned earlier. Russell was already commissioned to write a report for the estate and earlier in January, I joined him for a really useful walkabout with PC Ford Keeble who is the City’s Architectural Liaison Officer. Since then, we’ve had continuing correspondence about the scope of the report, sharing more info, pictures etc. Ford also promised to contact Uber direct so hopefully that is having an impact.

Russell has completed his report, with observations and recommendations, and we’re now just waiting for the City to approve it for sharing with residents. He couldn’t make it this evening but is very happy to attend a resident meeting to discuss once we’ve had a chance to digest it. [report was approved shortly after GLERA meeting – click on button below]

Rob Akin, Chief Superintendent of Uniformed Policing, has been in in touch with apologies for not being able to attend this evening, but myself and our Councillor Ceri will meet with him in the next few weeks. I’ve suggested that once we get the report Russell has written then we have a special resident meeting for us all discuss, see how we can move forward and that would be an ideal time for members of his team to come along and answer questions. Rob also mentioned that there are plans to increase the Police panel meetings in resident wards to monthly rather than quarterly.

This does feel like a lot of behind the scenes progress, and hopefully we will see improvement on the estate soon. Lighting goes on earlier in the garages already thanks to Park Guard James and Matthew in the Estate Office, and there feels like there is an increased police presence.

The bit we must do is always REPORTING – we really do need to continue to report any anti-social behaviour, and particularly note times so that our police can adapt their patrols accordingly. If the incident is threatening and in progress (filming for instance) you can also call Bishopsgate Police Station on 020 7601 2222. Get a crime reference number so you know it is logged.

Slight change of topic but very related… In December a rogue film crew took over the courtyard between Cuthbert Harrowing and Great Arthur House. It was quite full on with lights and everything. One of the problems is that it’s a great location for these filmmakers and the kind of films / videos they are wanting to make. In January I met with Matthew in the Estate Office to talk through some ideas about how we can make that space less attractive for them and more attractive for us. So hopefully very soon we should be seeing some wild flower planters appearing down there – residents in Cuthbert Harrowing and that side of Great Arthur House will have received a letter of consultation this week. Please do respond!

Finally, many of you may have spotted that PC Christine is here this evening in her civvies (thank you). Christine has been working on a letter of useful information and how best to report. The environmental health and filming departments have also fed in so we can look forward to receiving that – I understand it’s just circulating for cross party approval before it’s sent out!
[letter was approved shortly after GLERA meeting – click on button below]