Furious Wapping residents take control of police’s public safety meeting following stabbings in woods

Furious residents frightened by recent attacks in Wapping Woods, which saw two lone women stabbed in broad daylight, took control of an explosive public meeting about community safety last night (Tuesday).

Angry comments from locals about their need to be heard forced the speakers – police and council bosses – to abandon their itinerary which would have seen them speak first before taking questions.

Instead, following a diatribe from one angry resident, which was backed up several others with one woman calling out, “you should listen to people first”, the meeting launched straight into the Q&A segment.

More than 120 people packed St George’s Town Hall in Cable Street, Shadwell, with many forced to stand – including the entire panel who gave up their chairs so more residents could sit.

Several locals insisted the issue went deeper than fears about the Wapping Woods stabbings, but was a broader issue about the fear of crime in Wapping in general. Several people accused police of not patrolling the area regularly enough, while others claimed officers had ignored their attempts to contact them about antisocial behaviour they had witnessed.

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The meeting, which was attended by borough commander Ch Supt Dave Stringer, was chaired by the safer neighbourhood team’s Insp Steve Cook who insisted officers are doing everything they can to keep the public safe.

He added the meeting was designed to “reassure” residents following the stabbings in the woods off Garnet Road, on December 4 and 29, although police were unable to discuss the attacks in detail to avoid prejudicing upcoming court proceedings.

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A 26-year-old woman and 38-year-old woman who were stabbed have now both been released from hospital.

Other issues raised during the meeting included the need for better street lighting, CCTV cameras, and the cutting back of foliage, and council chiefs insisted they were addressing those concerns.

See next week’s paper for more information about the meeting, which took place as we went to press.

• Tower Hamlets police charged a 32-year-old man with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of possessing a knife in a public place. He appeared at Thames Magistrates’ Court last Thursday and was remanded in custody ahead of a trial scheduled to take place at the Old Bailey on April 11.

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