Islington borough is not safe and has an unacceptably high crime rate, says an executive councillor in charge of security.
In an exclusive interview with Islington Now, Paul Convery, Islington’s executive member for crime and community safety, has said that the borough could not be called safe.
A recent report on crime delivered at a Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting on 10 November revealed that levels of violence among young people and against women have both increased markedly in the last 12 months.
Serious attacks among young people have gone up by a third in the last year, while 2,765 assaults on female were recorded.
“We have levels of crime that are unacceptably high,” Mr Convery said. “We are in the worst half dozen of London boroughs in terms of crime, with widespread robbery, theft, drug dealing, often committed by young adults who feel disaffected, unengaged.”
Angel, Clerkenwell, parts of Upper Street, Holloway Road, Seven Sisters Road and Finsbury Park are the places raising most concerns at the moment.
“All these areas have been declared ‘saturated’ zones and no new alcohol licenses are granted there,” the councillor added.
Islington currently has the highest proportion of alcohol premises of any district in Britain, with roughly 1,500 licenses.
In their manifesto during the 2010 elections, the Labour party promised to “get a grip on the night time economy”. The council has since taken initiatives to fulfil that pledge, such as encouraging places to stop selling alcohol past midnight and taxing premises that stay open into the early hours.
“We have been raising about £400,000 per year with that measure,” Mr Convery said. “We want to get the right balance between having a good vibrant night time economy, and making sure it doesn’t cause nuisance.
“One of the main responses to the rising level of crimes in the borough is preventing crime by identifying people beforehand,” he said. For that purpose, the council and the police have been working together to cover up surveillance of households with “persistent criminal patterns”, or where family members have been involved in criminality over a certain period of time.
However, a new measure has proven to be the most “persuasive threat to prevent anti-social behaviour” so far, according to the councillor.
“Housing associations and the council – when they are the actual landlord – are now in power to deny housing for people involved in criminality or illegal activity,” he said.
“There is a lot of poverty and disadvantage in our borough. People come from all sorts of social and ethnic backgrounds. Some are feeling left behind, as if they’re not getting their share of the prosperity that Islington, and London in general, generates.
“Some of that feeds through to criminality. It is that small proportion of people that often feel disconnected from the reality of things that commit the most crimes in the borough.”
Although the Metropolitan Police crime map shows Islington’s crime rate is still above the London average, there are some encouraging signs that the rate is starting to fall. The overall number of crimes annually has dropped by 14 per cent over the past few years and there are 3,500 fewer victims per year than there were four years ago.
“We want to be safe, that’s what we want to call ourselves, but at the moment I can’t say we are,” he added.