St Mary Magdalene Park Police Line

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Saturday 31 July 2004 2.28pm
Hi all,

Does anyone know anything about the police closing the park behind St Mary Magdelane church on Bermondsey Street on Sat 31/07? Several weeks ago I noticed that unknown people were setting up a makeshift tent and living on the property (owned by Southwark Council) adjacent to the park and (egads I've got a real conflict over this) called the Borough police to complain (mostly because people were defecating in the field in plain view of my window and partying late into the night in the park). They told me that unless someone was expressly breaking a law (defecating in public view on public property didn't apparently count), there was nothing they would do. I asked if living in a park was legal and a perplexed sigh said to me... we're pretty busy with lots of stuff and this is not a priority... and fair enough. Still, it seemed to me weird that they weren't interested in sending someone over eventually just to see what was going on. But I figured eventually someone would move them on and gave up.

Today I noticed a forensic team go through the tents item by item throwing everything (and there was quite a lot) into a big pile and putting other stuff into plastic bags. When I went outside to the store, I saw that the park was closed with police line ribbon.

So two questions really, I'm curious to know what happened (was this a crime waiting to happen?) and I'm curious to know if this is standard police proceedure.


Edited 1 times. Last edit at 1 August 2004 12.11pm by James Hatts.
Monday 2 August 2004 9.02am
i protested to southwark council parks department about the "tent" community growing in the park as there always seem to be a lot of drunks in the churchyard and walking my kids home through there i got a lot of sexual abuse so changed my route home. i was told something would be done but saw no evidence.

Monday 9 August 2004 5.38pm
From what I heard second-hand, one of the tent residents was believed to have committed armed robbery and the search was to find evidence.

I've called Southwark Parks to ask that the mess be cleaned up. Someone called me today from a firm which is paid to keep the parks clean. First he said that he couldn't do it because the property belonged to the church. I told him that that runs counter to everything I've been told.

Then he said he'd be glad to have the business but had to find out who on the council would pay for it. He said he'd come by and take a look and then call the Southwark Council people responsible to see if the council could scrape up the money.
Monday 9 August 2004 7.45pm
The issue of parks and the police also comes up regularly in Lambeth. Perceptions of safety have a big impact on park use. Get one or two threatening drunks and lots of people stop using the space making the problem worse.

Yet curiously the police tend to try and stay away, going as far as saying that Lambeth discourage them from entering parks. Lambeth Parks say this is untrue, and I tend to belive them.

There is a real and seemingly growing issue of rough sleepers in parks. In part this may be affected by Westminster's strong policy of moving people on from their streets. And certainly in Archbishops there have been a few nasty incidents.

Phoning the police is a start. It should help reinforce whatever encouragement the Council is giving. But in Lambeth's case they have just switched staffing patterns so that there are unlikely to be any staff in the park after 4.00pm or at all on Saturdays. My own view is that costs arising from greater vandalism added to the social cost of people no longer accessing the facilities will far outweigh any savings. (And apparantly some empirical evidence from New York and other cities which support this view.) But I don't think I will get any pleasure from having been proved right.
Monday 14 February 2005 12.59pm
Nice to be finally able to clear up the original question:

Two jailed for violent robbery spree in SE1

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Tuesday 15 February 2005 11.26am
More on the attacks from the Evening Standard:

The now infamous Mr Finegold gets his facts wrong on two counts - they weren't sentenced yesterday (it was last week), and he has followed the police line that all the attacks were between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, when in fact Burrell Street and Meymott Street are yards from our office in Blackfriars Road.

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