Monday 3 July 2006 12.19pm
A few days ago I noticed a group of people sleeping in the extension area of St Mary Magdalen
's Park off Tower Bridge Road
. Perhaps if people just slept rough, I wouldn't mind (not everyone is as fortunate as I blah blah blah) but then comes the drinking and use of the area as a toilet and then the rubbish, etc etc. So I do mind. I called the police (Rotherhithe). 2 officers from neighborhood safety group came during the day (they only work until early evening apparently, before the "sleepers" show up). The officers took notes and suggested if the vagrants caused more problems at night that I call the Borough station of the MET or the noise control people and also report the incident to the parks commission (which I did)
Last night these rough sleepers (and I don't think they're the local drunks who sometimes inhabit the park because I recognise most of them I think) started a bon fire with flames that I think got to be maybe 3 feet high. So I called the Borough police. About an hour later when I checked, the fire was out but the people were still sitting around. Whether or not the police actually came, I can't say. Is it conceivable that the police came and just told them to put out the fire and nothing more? Hard to believe but.... I have to wonder if they came at all. I can say that a large area of this section of the park is now very rubbishy and some of the lawn has been destroyed by the fire. The rough sleepers are gone for the day. But I'll be surprised if even more of them are not back tonight.
What I don't understand is why sleeping in a park, starting a largish fire, intense littering, urinating and defecating in a public park are not reasons alone for at least moving these people on, not to mention checking them out to see who they are. Last year a very similar set of events happened (I posted here at that time too) and it turned out the people sleeping in almost the exact same location were arrested for a series of muggings throughout Southwark. At that time the police didn't respond at all to my phone calls.
Being a new citizen of the UK and not growing up here I'm a bit perplexed. Is this some sort of cultural tolerance of "not really naughty" behaviours? Are the police powerless to do something about this or just too busy with yobs on the main street?
Is there anything I can do?