Antisocial offences in Redbridge increasing despite council crackdown

The number of antisocial offences being committed in Redbridge is increasing despite council crackdowns.

Night-time crimes such as assaults, thefts, and sexual offences continue to plague certain areas of Ilford, council figures show.

In the town centre, South Woodford, and Gants Hill, the number of violent offences being committed increased in 2022/23.

Sexual offences are harder to track, the council says, due to “fluctuating data” affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020/21.

All three have been designated ‘cumulative impact zones’ (CIZ) since 2020.

Applications to alter licensing conditions for shops or bars within a CIZ are likely to be turned down, as are any applications for new premises.

According to a council licensing report, there needs to be a “continued focus” on South Woodford, where there remains a high number of both licensed properties and crimes being reported.

Though they do not directly tackle crime, CIZs are designed to stop businesses undermining the council’s ‘licensing objectives,’ which include upholding public safety and preventing crime.

Overall, early indications – ahead of a wider council-run consultation – suggest they have been successful.

In the report, put before the authority’s licensing team on Thursday (25th April), applicants for new premises have “engaged” with the council to address the issues in the area.

The majority of applications for new licensed premises fall within the three CIZs and tend to be turned down – unless the applicant can prove it will not adversely affect their surroundings.

Additionally, they have “helped ensure” applicants seek appropriate hours and improved the “quality” of applications, the council says.

The stipulations of the CIZs played a part in the licensing committee’s decision to refuse Ilford Food and Grocery’s application to extend its hours until 2am.

Though there was no direct evidence that applicant Haydar Sal’s shop in Cranbrook Road was used by street-drinkers, a representative from the council’s public health team said “responsible drinkers” were not shopping in the early hours.

PC Dean Birch warned during the meeting: “We know Ilford has an issue with street drinking. If this is granted, it’s highly likely those current issues will grow.”

The authority’s public health team has also raised wider concerns over a reported increase in drug-dealing in the area, which could undermine the CIZs, as well as licensed premises offering 24-hour deliveries.

On top of the CIZ, Ilford is also under a public space protection order (PSPO). The order, enforced by the council and police since October last year, makes it a specific offence to publicly drink, spit and urinate in the town centre and surrounding wards.

Those who breach it could be fined £100 on the spot, or made to pay £1,000 if they are prosecuted.

The council says it has taken a “tough stance” on the issue, but residents previously told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that issues in the area persisted.

Mike Waringer, who has lived in Ilford for 42 years, said he regularly sees people spitting, urinating, defecating and drinking.

He added: “The council is quite good at putting signs up, but it doesn’t really do anything.”

In a statement issued to the LDRS, a spokesperson for Redbridge Council maintained the authority’s commitment to tackling the issue.

He said its intelligence-led approach meant the community protection task force (CPTF) can “quickly identify and target” premises where groups gather.

He added: “This activity invariably means we can move people on without needing enforcement action. We also have certain powers to target and reduce street drinking, including ASB warnings and the use of PSPO powers to confiscate alcohol.

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Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter