Families on troubled estate plead for help

FAMILIES living on the crumbling Leys Estate in Dagenham met with police, councillors and Jon Cruddas MP to discuss crime prevention last week. Many concerns raised were to do with loitering youths smoking cannabis and drinking in the corridors of blocks

FAMILIES living on the crumbling Leys Estate in Dagenham met with police, councillors and Jon Cruddas MP to discuss crime prevention last week.

Many concerns raised were to do with loitering youths smoking cannabis and drinking in the corridors of blocks of flats, intimidating the residents.

Burglary was another crime affecting families, with vice-chairman of the Leys Tenants and Residents' Association, Jason Pickering, saying one woman in Wellington Drive had been broken into six times in the last month.

Mr Pickering said: "On another occasion a man's flat was burgled, while he was out at work.


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"He came home to find a load of things missing, but didn't realise the burglars had taken a spare key.

"So, the next day when he went to work, the burglars came back and completely cleaned him out."

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Other residents described how they were afraid to leave the house, a complaint which was raised with Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham.

Mr Cruddas said: "More and more people are coming to my office from the Leys Estate saying they don't feel safe in their own homes.

"This walkaround is about trying to identify why that is and provide solutions in the short term, while also looking towards changing the future of this estate."

Many families say they would feel safer if the blocks of flats had intercom entry systems to stop youths hanging around inside.

Miriam Andrade, of Wellington Drive, said: "I feel afraid going into my own house which isn't right.

"The teenagers shout racist abuse at me when I am with my children.

"Many people have been burgled in broad daylight. It's disgraceful."

Sgt Richard Drake, of Village Safer Neighbourhood Team, stressed the importance of reporting crimes to police.

He said: "We are doing lots of stop and search operations, in uniform and in plain clothes, but no drugs have been found on the Leys Estate.

"However, a lot of the time people are not reporting crimes to the police and we need to remedy that situation in order to effectively tackle crime here."

Detached youth workers, who have been talking to Leys teenagers, were also at the walkaround last month.

One of the main concerns is that there is nothing for young people to do. There is no youth club, playground or sports facilities.

Ward Cllr Phil Waker, said: "I know one of the things discussed for the Leys Estate was a skatepark or a basketball court.

"If the demand is still there from young people, we will have to look into that."

A major drawback to new plans for the Leys Estate is lack of funding.

It was supposed to have received �7million last year but due to the recession this did not happen.

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