Time to gang up on drug dealers at our doorsteps

BELSIZE Park residents plagued by the drugs trade on their doorsteps are ganging up to fight the dealers

Ed Thomas

BELSIZE Park residents plagued by the drugs trade on their doorsteps are ganging up to fight the dealers.

People living around Eton Road and Provost Road are forming a Neighbourhood Watch to gather evidence which will help police rid the area of its problems.

According to residents, drug dealers and addicts can be seen around the clock in the backs of cars and on the low walls around the Eton flats.

Drugs are stashed in residents' gardens and even the grounds of St Saviour's Church, making it hard for police to catch dealers red-handed.

A Provost Road resident, who was too afraid to have his name printed, said: "We are starting up The Etons Neighbourhood Watch as this has been going on for so long and we are sick of it.

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"They have hidden their cannabis and cocaine in the ivy of my own hedge.

"We want the authorities to do something about this, because if we start a war of our own we will lose.

"So far, nothing has seemed to work. The police come and move people on, but they come back again.

"I see them when I'm walking my dog or coming back from Chalk Farm tube station at night.

"So I've started keeping a diary of dates and times to hand to the police and we will be meeting with other residents and holding meetings in the church hall to get other people doing the same thing.

"We will keep nagging the police on this until something is done."

A fellow Provost Road resident said: "It's very intimidating when you walk by and see them exchanging packets of drugs.

"It has become a centre for the drugs trade around here. But it's a residential area with children around."

A dispersal zone covering the Haverstock area around Malden Road and the Denton Estate was extended last year to include Eton Road and Provost Road. It means troublemakers can be moved on by police but residents say it has made no difference.

At a meeting last week, the Haverstock Safer Neighbourhoods police team resolved to make the drug dealing issue a priority.

Officers talked of "drug dealer ping pong" resulting from Anti Social Behaviour Orders issued in Camden Town pushing dealers up into Chalk Farm, Haverstock and Belsize Park.

PC Jo Lewis said: "It's very hard to eradicate them completely because we cannot be out there 24 hours a day."

Concerns were also raised that the dealers are appearing in the afternoons to prey on youngsters coming out of nearby Haverstock School.

Headteacher John Dowd said staff, and Haverstock's safer schools officer, supervise pupils as they leave and carry out regular patrols in the area.

"I am aware that street crime and drug dealing are issues in Camden and that attempts by police to stop dealing in the lock may have dispersed dealers.

"We have increased our patrols in and around the Eton flats areas but have found no evidence of dealers operating, neither have we found our students frequenting this area.

"Plain clothes officers who patrol the area confirm that whilst there have been complaints of dealers from residents they have had no reports of our students being around. They are very visible in their uniform and would be easily identified."