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Tower Hamlets Council paying for police recruits to tackle drug runners on its housing estates

PUBLISHED: 10:43 25 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:31 25 July 2017

Police Sgt Estella Dooley and Det Insp Chris Soole lead community weapons sweep on Bethnal Green housing estate. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

Police Sgt Estella Dooley and Det Insp Chris Soole lead community weapons sweep on Bethnal Green housing estate. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

Mike Brooke

More police officers are being recruited in east London to tackle crime and drug dealing on Tower Hamlets council estates—paid for by the town hall.

Police discover knife hidden on Regent's Canal towpath at Bethnal Green. Picture: MIKE BROOKEPolice discover knife hidden on Regent's Canal towpath at Bethnal Green. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

Recruitment has begun for a taskforce to patrol estates through the night from September.

It follows the Met’s ‘Operation Leipzig’ two weeks ago when police joined East End community leaders on a weapons sweep which uncovered deadly knives and drugs paraphernalia—first revealed in the East London Advertiser.

“We have agreed to 14 new officers to work on Tower Hamlets housing estates,” Mayor John Biggs told councilors. “They will take on persistent offenders who make life a misery for residents.”

Borough Commander Sue Williams meeting Tower Hamlets chief executive Will Tuckley and Mayor John Biggs at 2016 Remembrance at Tower Hill. Picture: MIKE BROOKEBorough Commander Sue Williams meeting Tower Hamlets chief executive Will Tuckley and Mayor John Biggs at 2016 Remembrance at Tower Hill. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

The council is paying out £2.5m over the next three years for more officers and security patrols.

The Met’s Tower Hamlets Borough Commander Sue Williams said: “We are taking action against drug dealing because residents are deeply affected by those preying on vulnerable people.”

Police began searching council estates at Roman Road in Bethnal Green and Mile End’s Bancroft Estate two weeks ago, the first ‘sweep’ uncovering drug needles and knives hidden in bushes.

Drugs found in Roman Road during Met Police sweep on Bethnal Green housing estate. Picture: MIKE BROOKEDrugs found in Roman Road during Met Police sweep on Bethnal Green housing estate. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

They also arrested a 17-year-old youth found to be in Roman Road despite a court order banning him from the area for supplying drugs. Cannabis was found dumped in the street nearby.

The town hall cash deal for the new taskforce comes in the wake of Met Police budget cuts.

Council cabinet member Asma Begum said: “Government cuts have meant fewer police officers on our streets. That makes this more important.”

Bancroft housing estate director Julian Smith at spot where he discovered hidden knife. Picture: MIKE BROOKEBancroft housing estate director Julian Smith at spot where he discovered hidden knife. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

Families on the Bancroft estate are plagued by drug dealers from other areas peddling their cannabis in the back streets.

Their housing services manager Julian Smith told the Advertiser: “We need to work with the police to reduce anti-social behaviour after we uncovered a large knife purposely hidden. It could be a death sentence against a child.

“But we aim to ‘design’ crime out of the estate by creating a community garden where we’ve had anti-social behaviour and by putting up gates to block drive-through access.”

Bancroft holds an estate community meeting on July 31 where families meet the police over worries about drug dealers on their doorstep.

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