Riot police return to street dogged by crime

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The Independent Online

Riot police returned to a street dogged by crime 20 months after an unprecedented raid tried to flush out criminals for good.

More than 600 officers in protective equipment swooped on a stretch of Blackstock Road, north London, in a co-ordinated raid last March.

The street was plagued by mobile phone crime, the sale of stolen goods, drug dealing and anti-social behaviour.

Police were back again in force yesterday after a flood of fresh complaints that it remained a crime hotspot.

At least 30 residents have given police statements complaining about intimidation and the sexual harassment of women.

Officers temporarily closed one cafe they believed had become a hub for crime and anti-social behaviour.

Five properties were searched and six people arrested for crimes including holding of crack cocaine, money laundering, immigration offences and handling stolen goods.

Cards entitled "You Said - We Did" were distributed to residents, including Turkish, Arabic and French translations.

Blackstock Road, on the borders of the London boroughs of Islington, Haringey and Hackney, is a popular shopping street.

It is a short distance from Finsbury Park Mosque and Finsbury Park Tube station and has been dubbed "little Algeria" by some residents.

The raids took place as part of a wider operation to disrupt criminal networks involved in drug dealing and handling stolen goods in Islington.

Police also searched properties in Hornsey Road, one of which was a suspected safe house for drugs, complete with steel reinforced internal doors and walls.

Detective Chief Inspector Adrian Usher, of Islington Police, said: "We think a significant proportion of recent violent crime in Islington is driven by the local criminal economy involving drug dealing and handling stolen goods.

"In carrying out these raids we are challenging the criminal networks we believe are associated with recent violence.

"The way in which we have responded to the needs and concerns of the local community is exceptional.

"Local people including the Turkish and Arabic communities are very supportive of robust police action against the criminal networks that negatively impact on their quality of life."