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Police step up night patrols in Wapping Woods as residents fear violence

PUBLISHED: 12:21 21 January 2013 | UPDATED: 07:39 28 January 2013

Pol Sgt Jak Bentley patrols Wapping Woods

Pol Sgt Jak Bentley patrols Wapping Woods

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Police have been responding to public fears of violence in London’s East End by stepping up high visibility evening patrols.

Neighbourhood patrol... Support officer Mohammed Chowdhury (left) and Pc Andy GroomNeighbourhood patrol... Support officer Mohammed Chowdhury (left) and Pc Andy Groom

The Advertiser was invited out with the Neighbourhood police team in Wapping to see how they patrol the streets and parks in Docklands.

It follows a heated public meeting in Shadwell earlier this month after two incidents involving knives in Wapping Wood park.

Pol Sgt Jak Bentley briefed his small team stationed at St George’s old Town Hall in Cable Street before moving off for the evening patrol. They will soon be moved out of the area if policing is centralised.

“Anti-social behaviour has led to drug taking and binge drinking in this area,” he explained. “Violent attacks are unusual, but they magnify people’s fears when they happen.”

Patrolling Wapping WoodPatrolling Wapping Wood

He points out a vehicle in a car-park as we pass Dellow Street with two men sitting in it.

“I’ve not seen the car before and it could be perfectly innocent,” adds Sgt Bentley. “But I’ve made a mental note to keep watch on the car-park where we’ve had drug dealers in the past.”

That’s the kind of local intelligence critics of the cuts say will be lost if Boris Johnson pushes through the cuts.

We arrive at Wapping Woods to find the tall, overhanging bushes have all been cut back, revealing a less intimidating, more open space.

“The bushes were very high, about 10ft,” he points out. “They offered a hiding place and cover for dubious activity.”

The Neighbourhood team that night included Pc Andy Groom, who joined eight weeks ago from the Whitechapel team, and Mohammed Choudhury who joined five years ago as one of three support officers.

It has been a quiet evening. The patrol is there till midnight and will stay on if there’s a problem in the night.

Meanwhile, Sgt Bentley has had a tip that a man who skipped bail is at an address on the manor. He plans to dawn knock on the door.

It’s back to old fashioned policing where collars are felt.


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