Crime in Charlton: What’s being done?

The tailor’s showroom in Charlton Village was ram-raided in April

Greenwich Council is to set up a working group aimed at combatting the recent increase in crime in and around Charlton.

Worries about crime in the area have escalated in recent months following a number of high-profile incidents, including the ram-raiding of a tailor’s shop on The Village in April. In addition, there have been a number of anecdotal reports of incidents in streets close to Charlton station.

The Charlton Champion does not regularly feature crime reports – but we would like to play our part in combating crime without whipping up fear, so we have asked the local police if we can be sent crime advice and alerts.

We’re grateful to Charlton ward councillor Gary Dillon for passing on these briefing notes from a meeting held by the council last week to discuss the issue. We’ve edited them slightly for clarity and to remove information that may be sensitive.

If you have concerns about crime in your area, you can contact your ward councillors.

On the Met Police website, you can see current stats on crime for Charlton ward, get advice and voice your concerns. (See also Peninsula, Woolwich Riverside and Kidbrooke with Hornfair wards.)

And you are the victim of crime or have any information, you can contact the police online or call 101 (999 in an emergency).


The Charlton ward has seen an increase in crime and disorder over the last few months. Businesses in the locality have been particular targets. As a result, the incidents have had a significant negative impact on the community.

This briefing will address:

– Activities undertaken to date in response to crime incidents and concerns.

– Ways forward to reduce and prevent further incidents to the best of our ability by working in collaboration with key stakeholders.

The aim is not only to decrease crime and disorder but to also enhance reassurance and confidence in those who live, work and visit Charlton.

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The top three crimes in the Charlton ward are burglary, violence and vehicle crime. There are no specific hotspot areas identified as incidents have occurred across the ward. A recent meeting held on 4 July revealed that the ward has also suffered from street thefts, drug dealing, moped enabled crime, anti-social behaviour and a recent alleged firearms incident at an off-licence. The ward police officers have suggested that some offences are likely to have been linked.

It is recognised residents and those who work in Charlton may not be reporting incidents directly to the police, therefore promoting reporting methods will be explored. It is understood residents feel reporting to police results in little or no action, however an important message to the community is to highlight the fact that if police are unaware of incidents, it is difficult to respond to them.

As a partnership, we want to ensure all incidents are being reported so that appropriate resources and responses are deployed, not only from police but from the Royal Borough of Greenwich and any relevant stakeholder who can contribute to the reduction of crime and disorder.

Crime figures

The safer neighbourhood team produced figures for 1st November 2018 – 4th July 2019. It is evident crimes have shown an increase around March, which correlates with the concerns highlighted by the community. However, figures also show number of incidents have started to decrease, which is positive and the aspiration is to continue with this trend. The decrease may be a result of the work already undertaken in response to the incidents.

Table of crime figures

Work carried out by Greenwich Council

Daniel Bygrave, Community Safety Officer, Safer Spaces Team, has visited several shops following reports of burglaries. Daniel liaised with the business owners and employees and detailed options of how further incidents could be prevented by utilising problem solving methodology.

These options include layout and how the premises can be further secured. Daniel also explored the possibility of CCTV in the area following an enquiry from a councillor. Unfortunately this option is currently less feasible due to the lack of fibre optics needed to support the cameras, however other options for the area were discussed in the meeting held on 4 July, which are discussed in the ‘next steps’ section.

Garry Perkins, ASB Officer, Safer Communities team has issued a number of warning letters to individuals who have caused anti-social behaviour in the Charlton ward. Those who breach warnings issued to them will expect to be pursued with anti-social behaviour enforcement action.

Police activities

Actions undertaken:

Police officers changing their hours to night duties on a voluntary basis.

Home visits to known offenders have taken place, evidential and intelligence gathering and the use of stop and search.

Motor vehicle response tactics employed have been very similar to that used to target burglary subjects. It is suggested they are likely to be the same opportunists therefore crime prevention information is being tweaked for vehicle crime. Messages are not only around leaving valuables in sight but also around locking doors and windows.

The Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) led on a burglary operation in June. Their shifts started at 10pm and finishing at 6am to fit the needs of the ward. The officers have been doing these shifts in uniform to show a high visible presence. Covert patrols have been led by officers from other teams.

All victims have been and are being visited.

A number of warrants were being planned across the borough which should have a positive impact in the Charlton ward. The Gangs Unit are leading on this. The evidence is suggesting the burglary and vehicle crime are drug related.

An image of a suspect was provided to the Police. The individual has been identified and action is being taken.

A two month burglary operation is being carried out.

The violence-related offences have been ad-hoc offences, not gang related.

The SNT have signed up to the phone app Nextdoor where there are already 6,000 members. Police plan to send out crime prevention information this way. Twitter is also being utilised.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition operations have been planned.

The SNT are working with the Charlton Central Residents Association regarding reporting, awareness, prevention information and intelligence gathering.

Smartwater is being rolled out in priority streets and was also promoted at the recent Great Get Together event in Charlton Park on 29th June.

Neighbourhood Watch Activities

The Neighbourhood Watch lead disseminated crime prevention messages to all members in the Royal Borough of Greenwich highlighting burglaries and motor vehicle crimes as the issues.

The message includes vigilance in the community, reporting any suspicious behaviour and submitting any CCTV footage to police.

All the existing Neighbourhood Watch schemes in Charlton had been contacted and volunteers had been asked to carry out a door knocking exercise to provide residents with burglary awareness and prevention messages.

A burglary masterclass was delivered in the ward and there is scope to deliver more.

Meeting on 4 July and next steps

The purpose of the meeting was to obtain fuller understanding of the issues and agree ways forward. The meeting was attended by ward councillors Leo Fletcher and Gary Dillon, Assistant Director Community Safety & Environmental Health Sean McDermid, representation from the DMT Directorate, Safer Communities, Open Spaces and SNT officers.

The actions agreed from the meeting are as follows:

Police and council Officers to review all of the incidents and available intelligence which can be shared

SNT to further roll out Smart water kits with possible support regarding funding from Greenwich Council

The organisation of a Crime Prevention Event, which would involve the SNT, Neighbourhood Watch and Community Safety Officer where a further Burglary Masterclass can be delivered.

Environmental Visual Audit with designing out crime officers to identify Hotspot areas, which could present an opportunity for CCTV or mobile CCTV locations and enhancing visibility of areas by cutting back hedges/bushes and additional lighting.

Adopting a Town Centre approach to Charlton Village.

Disseminating any good news stories to enhance community reassurance via council communications team in addition to SNT communications.

To add Charlton as the fourth tasking priority for the month of July under Integrated Enforcement. This way visibility by Street Services and Warden Patrols would increase.

To devise a detailed action plan/Problem Solving Plan encompassing all the crime types and options for responses for each.

To introduce a monthly stakeholder group forum.

The immediate next step is to arrange visits to all affected businesses and explore problem solving options with council and police representatives. A meeting with the partnership police inspector is taking place on 11 July to discuss the possibility of a formal problem solving process around burglary which will cover the businesses in Charlton and other businesses affected in the borough.

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Charlton hustings: Councillors acted ‘appallingly’ over Victoria Way scheme, ex-planning officer says

Victoria Way, February 2017
The Victoria Way site last year. Demolition teams have now moved in.

A former Greenwich Council planning officer who is standing for election in Charlton this week says councillors acted “appallingly” when they decided to back a controversial development in Victoria Way without explaining why.

The eight-strong planning committee faced jeers from the public after after endorsing the Fairview New Homes proposals for a former warehouse site, which include two 10-storey blocks and 144 car parking spaces, as well as a nursery and office space.

Neighbours had called the plans “overbearing” and had voiced concerns about traffic congestion and the lack of facilities for residents. Others criticised a lack of consultation with residents about the scheme.

In the meeting overseen by vice-chair Ray Walker (Labour, Eltham West), councillors Mark Elliott (Conservative, Eltham South), Clive Mardner (Labour, Abbey Wood), Danny Thorpe (Labour, Shooters Hill – council deputy leader and regeneration cabinet member), Sarah Merrill (Labour, Shooters Hill), Norman Adams (Labour, Kidbrooke with Hornfair), Steve Offord (Labour, Abbey Wood) backed the scheme without discussig 125 objections from residents, three written objections from local councillors in Peninsula and Charlton wards and concerns raised by Transport for London and the Greater London Authority about the high level of car parking spaces.

Only Thorpe attempted to offer any explanation when it came to vote on the scheme. Conservative Geoff Brighty (Blackheath Westcombe) voted against it.

At the Charlton ward hustings on Saturday, Green candidate Clare Loops – a former planning policy manager for Greenwich who is standing in Thursday’s council election – condemned the way the councillors acted.

“Just looking at the way the committee is structured at the moment, they should be discussing the points raised, and that is appalling that it didn’t happen,” Loops – who now works for neighbouring Bexley – said.

But incumbent Labour councillor Gary Parker said: “What you have to remember is that the Planning Board is not whipped, and it wasn’t just Labour candidates that voted for it. They get the papers in advance and they get officers’ recommendations, and there was a recommendation in favour of it.

“I do think we should listen to residents a lot more, but the complexities of planning law make that very difficult.”

‘Charlton has no representation on planning committee’

It is normal convention in a Greenwich planning meeting for councillors to discuss the application – no explanation has been given as to why they didn’t on the Fairview Victoria Way case.

Parker agreed with Loops that the council needed to bring some applications to planning committees at earlier stages to obtain residents’ input.

Fellow Labour candidate Gary Dillon said that the Charlton area had no representation on the Planning Board, which is the council’s main planning commitee, “I hope that changes after the next election,” he said.

But Lib Dem candidate Ian Gerrard responded: “Parties decide who serves on committees – if Charlton isn’t being represented, that’s down to Labour.”

Women’s Equality Party candidate Pamela Ritchie also attended the hustings, along with one of the three Conservative candidates, Macharia Gakuru, and a second Lib Dem candidate, Charlie Rome. Linda Perks – the Labour candidate condemned by a judge for rule-breaking in a union election – did not attend.

Planning issues dominated the hustings, with concerns raised about the fate of the Charlton Riverside masterplan in the light of the planning application by Rockwell for 771 new homes on an industrial estate at Anchor & Hope Lane including five 10-storey blocks.

“All residents of Charlton could be affected by this,” Ritchie said, adding: “We’ve already seen the segregation in Woolwich between the new-builds and the town of Woolwich.”

“I don’t like calling it Charlton Riverside,” Loops said. “The best way to integrate it would be to call it ‘Charlton’.”

Parker said the council was consulting via the Charlton Stakeholder Forum, which he called “a public forum”. “I’ve been at some of them, I haven’t seen any of the opposition there.”

(The Charlton Champion has never been invited or asked to publicise its meetings. Furthermore, this website understands that at the last meeting, representatives of developer Rockwell outnumbered all other attendees.)

He also pointed to the council’s Better Together meetings and public planning meetings – such as the one which discussed Victoria Way where councillors ignored residents.

Loops said it was “worrying” that council officers had recommended the Rockwell development even though it was contrary to the masterplan. “What’s the point in having a plan if you’re not going to follow it?,” Lib Dem Rome said.

There was also criticism of both council leader Denise Hyland and deputy leader Danny Thorpe sitting on the Planning Board – Greenwich is the only council in London where the leader sits on its main planning committee. Gary Parker said a leader or deputy leader on the planning board “leaves you open to potentially being compromised, blurring the distinction between the [council’s] planning function and being a member of the executive”. “If I was in that position, I wouldn’t be on it, but that is for them to decide.”

On Sunday, a resident at the hustings for Woolwich Riverside ward – which covers some of the eastern side of Charlton – also brought up former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts’ role as deputy chairman of Cratus Communications, which has acted for the developers of both the Fairview Victoria Way and Rockwell Charlton Riverside schemes. “I suppose ex-leaders of councils have to earn a living,” Labour councillor John Fahy said.

Ideas for Charlton’s future

Back at the Charlton ward hustings, candidates were also asked how they would improve Charlton Village and Charlton Church Lane. Conservative Macharia Gakuru said he would change Charlton Church Lane into a one-way street, while Lib Dem Gerrard suggested the council could temporarily lower business rates.

Loops said: “We need to make sure footfall in the Village is all of us using it. We could be changing some of the A5 uses – hot food takeaways – into more of a cafe culture, to provide more places to hang out. And slow down the traffic – 20mph is much better.”

Parker said: “We need to look at more pop-up shops and a range of other short-term measures to support businesses and people who want to get into business. I think the council could be more flexible about this.” Ritchie complained about the state of the pavements on Charlton Church Lane and suggested parking in that street could be moved.

All candidates also spoke out against the current plans for the proposed Enderby Wharf cruise liner terminal in east Greenwich, which will allow ships using it to use their own highly polluting engines rather than energy from the National Grid.

All 51 seats in Greenwich borough are up for election on Thursday – see candidates, manifestos and more hustings coverage over on 853. Of the councillors that passed the Fairview Victoria Way scheme, all are up for re-election in their various wards except Mark Elliott and Ray Walker; while Steve Offord was deselected in Abbey Wood and is now contesting Eltham North.

Video from selected parts of Saturday’s Charlton hustings – including opening and closing statements – can be seen on YouTube.

The Charlton Champion sent a questionnaire to candidates…

Charlton ward candidates (three are elected): Gary Dillon (Labour), Macharia Gakuru (Conservative), Ian Gerrard (Liberal Democrat), Rebecca Ireland (Liberal Democrat), Catherine Latham (Conservative), Clare Loops (Green), Maya Mann (Conservative), Gary Parker (Labour), Linda Perks (Labour), Pamela Ritchie (Women’s Equality Party), Charlie Rome (Liberal Democrat). Polls are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 3 May.

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