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Drug gangs put families in fear with 'bottleneck of crime' plaguing Poplar estate for 20 years

PUBLISHED: 19:00 14 November 2019 | UPDATED: 19:23 14 November 2019

Angry familes have had enough of 30 years of crime on their estate and want council action. Picture: Mike Brooke

Angry familes have had enough of 30 years of crime on their estate and want council action. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Besieged families are facing daily intimidation from drug gangs roaming their neighbourhood with machetes in a "crime bottleneck" of robberies, car-wrecking and even car hijacking at knifepoint.

'Help make Brownfield Estate safe'... delegation led by Redwan Shuel (left) and Tony Harrison in plea to Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike Brooke'Help make Brownfield Estate safe'... delegation led by Redwan Shuel (left) and Tony Harrison in plea to Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike Brooke

They sent a delegation to Tower Hamlets Council last night to ask for "robust action" to boot out thugs who have plagued the streets around Poplar's Brownfield Estate for at least 20 years.

The delegation of neighbours handed in a petition and addressed the council to demand security CCTV and better lighting to make the dark alleys and Jolly's Green open space safe.

"I'm not going to live my life in fear," defiant mum Renee Collins-Edwards told the East London Advertiser. "It's my estate — I live here.

"I'm not scared of the gangs, but do feel intimidated. I shouldn't have to live like that."

The 39-year-old has lived on the Brownfield Estate since she was a teenager and remembers gangs even back then.

"I'm not going to live my life in fear"... defiant mum Renee Collins-Edwards. Picture: Mike Brooke

"My mum and dad were threatened," she recalled. "Our house was burgled — yet no-one ever did anything.

"Why should you have to put up with your mum scared and crying with a gang sitting on your doorstep? I'm seeing the same thing 23 years on."

Father-of-five Redwan Shuel, who led the delegation to the town hall, said he had had his car hijacked at knifepoint.

He said: "It was hijacked while I was inside and I was threatened with a knife. They stole the car then set it on fire. I've now given up driving because I was so scared."

The 41-year-old accountant told the shocked council meeting: "It's unbelievable what's going on every day. You come out to find your tyres slashed or your car stolen.

Tony Harrison... Tony Harrison... "It's a bottleneck for crime and drug-dealing: We need these gangs taken off our streets." Picture: Mike Brooke

"We have hijackings, car thefts, vandalism, street robberies, burglaries and drug dealing even in broad daylight.

"We're scared to go out in the evening, but are angry and won't take it any more."

Council members have visited the estate and are now promising action which could include CCTV and more street lighting.

Father-of-three Tony Harrison, 37, a security worker living on the estate, told councillors: "We need these gangs taken off the streets. It's like a bottleneck for crime and drug-dealing."

He wants "a robust approach" to deter gangs congregating at Jolly's Green next to their homes which he says needs to be protected at night and through winter.

Robiul Islam... Robiul Islam... "My kids won't even go to the park because they're so scared." Picture: Mike Brooke

The council is now looking into ways to make the area safe for families. Meanwhile, the "bottleneck of crime" continues.

Taxi driver Robiul Islam, 26, said: "An intruder climbed onto our balcony. My kids are now scared to go onto the balcony and won't even go to the park. We don't feel safe."

He has been threatened in the street with a machete when arriving home in the early hours.

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