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Art campaign launched by ‘Columbia Road Cartel’ to tackle drug dealing in Bethnal Green

PUBLISHED: 16:33 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:33 18 September 2018

Anti-drugs street art campaign in Tower Hamlets launched by anonymous artists. Picture: Columbia Tenants and Residents Association

Anti-drugs street art campaign in Tower Hamlets launched by anonymous artists. Picture: Columbia Tenants and Residents Association

Columbia Tenants and Residents Association

An anti-drugs street art campaign has appeared in and around Columbia road, Bethnal Green.

Anti-drugs street art campaign in Tower Hamlets launched by anonymous artists. Picture: Columbia Tenants and Residents AssociationAnti-drugs street art campaign in Tower Hamlets launched by anonymous artists. Picture: Columbia Tenants and Residents Association

An anti-drugs street art campaign has appeared in Bethnal Green.

The artist or artists behind the campaign in Columbia Road wish to remain anonymous.

Named ‘Columbia Road Cartel’ they have introduced traffic calming measures to ease drug-related congestion in the area.

An anonymous resident said: “It is quite usual for there to be up to 10 or 15 addicts outside my house waiting for their drug drops, every day 24/7.”

The community action group was formed in April this year after residents felt that the Metropolitan police and Tower Hamlets council had let them down.

A council spokeswoman said: “Like the rest of London, Tower Hamlets suffers from some blatant drug dealing at times.

“We understand the frustration of these residents, which is why the council has invested £3 million in additional police officers to make up some of the shortfall in government cuts to the police.

“We are also working with the police on Operation Continuum, which targets drug dealers and offers support to those affected by it.”

Mayor John Biggs said: “This is a major problem in many places and not just Tower Hamlets but the Shoreditch area is a ‘hotspot’.

This is mainly a criminal matter and we need to see more police officers on the streets.

Police are not a council responsibility and Government cuts have had a big effect - in Tower Hamlets we have lost over 200 officers, and this has a real impact on the ground.”

A spokesman for Metropolitan Police added: “Officers in Tower Hamlets are working hard to tackle drugs offences to make the streets hostile territory for criminals.

“Local officers are fully engaged with partners and have a rolling programme of enforcement activities that target those identified as selling drugs.

“The Tower Hamlets partnership task force routinely perform anti-drug use/supply patrols and respond to intelligence received. “

Deputy mayor for community safety and equalities, councillor Asma Begum said: “’Drugs are ruining too many lives across the capital.

“And while keeping the streets safe is mainly a police matter it’s not just about police, collectively our public bodies can do better at tackling this problem.”

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