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EXCLUSIVE: Hanwell is becoming Han-HELL: locals say for years Ealing Council and police have failed to tackle anti-social behaviour

Hanwell residents have said they are fed up with Ealing Council and the police doing very little to combat the rise of anti-social behaviour from groups of people boozing, defecating and taking drugs in and around Hanwell Broadway. 

The issue has been going on for many years according to locals. Residents have shared with authorities, including Labour-run Ealing Council and police, photos and videos of incidents that occur and show anti-social behaviour including bottles of booze being drunk openly, drug addicts injecting and inhaling substances off spoons and threats made to the public.

Residents claim that anti-social behaviour is done brazenly both in public and in disused phone boxes. They also are concerned by the issues which also include spitting on the pavements as well as public spaces and areas being used as open toilets.

Locals say they are fed up with the Labour-run council and are considering moving away.  One resident who recently moved to the area to live in the newly built Hanwell Square development told EALING.NEWS:  “This council is useless. They surely must know there is a major problem going on. You can see it every day. The shop owners, like residents are fed up with so many people stealing from therm. Ealing Council surely must see it with their own CCTV, but when it comes to enforcement nothing is done.  If this was Ealing Broadway, they wouldn’t let it get like this.”

“Where are the council officers and where are the ward councillors. The amount of anti-social behaviour is out of control. I’m now considering whether I want to live in the area.”

One local, using the Twitter handle @helphanwell says the situation has got so bad over the years that she had to move once already and may have to do it again.

She says that areas around Hanwell’s clock tower, Boston Road, George Street car park as well as behind Lidl have seen a constant rise in anti-social behaviour.

Recently police and council officers have come out to monitor the situation, something residents say has only happened due to raising awareness of the issue on social media. Locals say authorities have ignored the issue and allowed the anti-social behaviour to grow causing distress.

@helphanwell has been documenting the issue with photos and videos for several years and has said that even when she attended police meetings and spoke with the council and its officers, no action is taken and it has only got worse.

But despite residents’ concerns, they claim to have seen very little being done.

One local has taken to Twitter to post her evidence.  She says that after years of trying to get the council and police to do something by reporting the unlawful activities, as well as attending public meetings, no help has been offered by authorities to make the area safe.

Signs in the area say it has a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which is supposed to prohibit anti-social behaviour. It gives powers to take action against those boozing and taking drugs in public as well as aiming to make the area safe for locals.

It also gives powers to deal with people who urinate and defecate in public and communal space. Residents say the front of their homes are also being used as toilets but no action is taken to go after those who do it.

Responding to residents on Twitter who have been highlighting their concerns, local Hanwell Broadway Councillor Monica Hamidi tweeted: “If you witness any ASB, it’s important to report it through the correct channels. Without your reports,the police & the local authority cannot take necessary action.”

But residents told the councillor they have had enough of reporting as they claim both Ealing Council and the police do nothing.

@helphanwell responded to Councillor Hamidi by saying: “I’ve been to police meetings, ealing council meetings, I’ve been to safer communities meetings even been to court with the safer communities about a local junkie who is back in the area and shouldn’t be and is very aggressive, but the injunction wasn’t enforced.”

Another Twitter user @donnchad said: “Where are the council in all this? Can’t keep hitting this over the fence at police when safer communities in my opinion need to be front and centre on issues in #Hanwell fully support social media reports”.

While @Ewansview added: “Hi Monica, this is a regular and long standing issue. Tokenistic reporting of ASB does absolutely nothing! The council and police need to be proactive in their response, and the root cause is that Ealing Council house the perpetrators in large numbers in our community. DO BETTER.”

On May 29 2023, Hanwell Broadway Police tweeted: “Anti-Social Behaviour will not be tolerated around Hanwell Broadway, especially Hanwell Clocktower. Local officers are actively working with @EalingCouncil in order to support, disperse and clean the streets of Hanwell.”

Locals speaking to EALING.NEWS say there is little being done despite the claim of “actively working”.

Brian who has lived in Hanwell for more than a decade said: “Where are the police or Ealing Council working actively on this? This area is scary during the day time and at night, I wouldn’t come here. Why has it taken residents to constantly highlight the issue? There is CCTV, are they actually using it?”

Long term Hanwell resident Alastair Mitton, Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Ealing Central and Acton told EALING.NEWS how the issue has been ongoing and the PSPO is “utterly useless unless it’s enforced”.

Mr Mitton said: “Anti-social behaviour has been a problem in Hanwell for as long as I can remember. The police and Ealing Council have paid lip service to efforts to clean the area up but have done very little in practical terms. A PSPO is utterly useless unless it’s enforced and it won’t be enforced without a permanent police presence.

“Back in 2018 we said the council could have made a room in Hanwell Library available to the police and in the meantime there has been considerable development locally where the council could have demanded space for the police from the developers. We desperately need high profile, consistent enforcement of the rules or Hanwell will continue to experience issues. Hanwell has been dreadfully neglected by successive Labour administrations and it has to stop and stop now.”

Writing about the issue for EALING.NEWS in an opinion piece published today (2 June 2023), Neil Reynolds, chair of Ealing Green Party said: “I am glad local people have finally been listened to and that this issue is again being dealt with, but I am concerned that the same mistakes and a pattern of superficially draconian, yet ultimately ineffective measures, is being repeated. Heroin and alcohol addictions cause obvious harm to the individual but also to local communities with theft (and similar crimes) associated with misuse.

“Much of this is caused by a national increase in poverty and homelessness,which result from a decade of neglect and austerity from failed Conservative and coalition governments. The solution to this is not easy, but there are proven strategies that work based on harm reduction and treating this as a public health, not just a public order issue.

“Some London boroughs are beginning to consider safe use spaces for substance use, to get those with addictions off the streets and into treatment programs. Ealing should be doing the same too, along with other, similar programmes. This is a long term social problem with no quick fixes, to pretend otherwise is an injustice to local residents who endure anti-social behaviour, and vulnerable people who need help.”

Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Inspector Leigh Ballard from the Ealing Safer Neighbourhoods strand for West Area, which includes Ealing Met Police said: “My team of Police officers and staff on the Safer Neighbourhoods team in Hanwell work tirelessly to support and deliver for the local community and all the residents. We work in partnership with Ealing Council and have had some really positive results showcased on social media recently, however we take on board there is still concern and still work to be done. I strive to deliver results for Hanwell.”

The police further released to EALING.NEWS a statement providing more information on what they are doing. The statement said:

“The Ealing Safer Neighbourhood Team recognises the priorities of the Hanwell Broadway Ward and note the particular concern surrounding street drinking and anti-social behaviour by local residents. Enforcement action is ongoing and has led to numerous arrests, issue of fixed penalty notices for various offences ranging from drunk and disorderly, public order offences to breach of criminal behaviour orders.

“Early intervention scheme warnings, Community Protection Notice Warnings and Community Protection Notices are regularly issued to persistent street drinkers causing anti-social behavior. Regular joint partnership work with outreach teams to conduct needs assessments on individuals (with the aim of) providing appropriate support for housing, support to help with alcohol dependencies is also key to our plan, vision and ongoing community work.

“‘Operation Bottletop’ has been launched again as part of the summer policing plan to tackle street drinking.

Our local policing plan for Hanwell consists of a vision for both the short and medium to longer terms:

Short Term

  • High-visibility Patrols to deter offending and offer reassurance for local community.
  • Enforcement actions against persistent perpetrators from issuing fines under PSPO (Public Space Protection Order), to issuing of community protection notices, arrests and prosecutions for none compliance.
  • Supported patrols by neighbourhood tasking teams and partner agencies such as Park Guards officers from London Borough Ealing council to ensure coverage of hotspot areas when local team members are not available.
  • Patrols to identify gaps in intelligence for unknown perpetrators and ensure positive enforcement action.
  • Ealing CCTV control tasking raised to ensure they regularly review footage of the area and inform police when any problems are identified.

Medium / Long term

  • Joint work with Outreach team to review needs assessment for all persistent offenders to offer support, advise for alcohol related issues and referral to St Mungo’s for persons of no fixed abode.
  • Community Impact statements to be taken from local residents and businesses being affected and to support enforcement actions in line of the Community Protection Notice.
  • Licensed premises in the area will be reviewed to ensure they are comply with objectives of prevention of crime and disorder.
  • Enforcement actions against persistence perpetrators moving onto criminal behaviour orders and civil injunctions.”

An Ealing Council spokesperson told EALING.NEWS: “The council is aware of concerns regarding persistent ASB in and around Hanwell, and the distress that this is causing some residents. The council has invested significant time and resource in acting on the issues residents have raised, including issuing community protection warnings, civil injunctions, and licensing enforcement to tackle behaviours such as street drinking.

“The council has also been supporting police-led enforcement of the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), and has made physical changes in hotspot locations, for example to benches and pavements, to make it more difficult for people to engage in anti-social behaviour in those locations.

“We will continue to highlight to the Metropolitan Police the need for a visible policing presence to deter ASB and crime in Hanwell and will continue to work with both policing partners and the local community to address ongoing concerns.”

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