New ‘Public Spaces’ order brought in to stop drug-dealers and prostitutes in Whitechapel

Tower Hamlets deputy mayor Shiria Khatun

Tower Hamlets deputy mayor Shiria Khatun - Credit: TH Cll + Archant

A war on drug-dealing in the street and prostitution has opened up in London’s East End where the new Public Spaces Protection Order regulations are being used for the first time to tackle a crime hot-spot.

Families in and around Whitechapel’s Kings Arms Court, between Old Montague Street and Whitechapel Road, have been plagued by drug-pushers, prostitutes, drunks, burglaries, rubbish-dumping and night-time noise nuisance.

So new regulations backed up by spy cameras were brought in by Tower Hamlets Council on October 1 to make the run-down neighbourhood “more welcoming and less intimidating”.

The three-year public order prohibiting any anti-social behaviour was brought in after police and the local authority had received 550 complaints in the last five years alone concerning this one location.

“We will be exercising their powers under this new order,” Deputy Mayor Shiria Khatun, cabinet members responsible for public safety, said. “Persistent anti social behaviour in and around Kings Arms Court has had a detrimental effect on those who live or work there.”

More closed-circuit TV cameras have been installed in the neighbourhood with police and council officers ready to take action with fines or prosecution against anyone breaking the prohibitions. The order runs for three years—but can be varied or even extended.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said: “Anti-social actions of a few individuals can make life intolerable.

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“People are entitled to enjoy their communities, public spaces and neighbourhoods free from anti-social behaviour.

“We hope this new power gives police and our own enforcement officers the tools to tackle this problem.”

The order applies to the pedestrian path from Old Montague Street to Whitechapel Road.

It is the first time Tower Hamlets has used its powers by making a ‘Public Space’ order since the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act was passed in 2014. Such orders give police and local authorities “more effective means” for dealing with nuisance, harassment and generally anti-social behaviour.