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'Remnants of the old King's Cross' - crime-ridden Cally phone boxes could be replaced with modified InLink units

PUBLISHED: 13:15 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:53 07 January 2020

The crime-ridden phone boxes that could be replaced with an InLink unit. Picture: Google

The crime-ridden phone boxes that could be replaced with an InLink unit. Picture: Google

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Three crime-ridden phone boxes in the Cally could be replaced with a BT InLink unit - on the condition free phone calls cannot be made to mobiles.

An InLink machine in Islington. Picture: InLinkAn InLink machine in Islington. Picture: InLink

Islington Council officers say while the monolithic structures and their LED ad displays are "not desirable in planning or visual terms", in this case one would be preferable to the existing cluster of old phone booths, and take up less space.

Neighbours have backed the plans, saying the phone boxes outside Tesco Metro are "remnants of the old King's Cross" and used for drug use, "sex adverts" and urinating.

A report written by Islington's planners ahead of a meeting next week states: "The site is an area of high anti-social behaviour (ASB) and the existing phone boxes are used to facilitate criminal activity and are generally an eyesore due to the illegal uses associated.

"The proposal to remove these boxes is supported by the [Met police's] design out crime officer and the BT InLink ASB management plan which provides an algorithm to prevent the use of the InLink for crime and other misuses."

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The algorithm, in use on all InLink devices in the UK, uses anonymised data to examine how often certain numbers are dialled, the length of calls, as well as "insights provided by the authorities".

Any numbers it suspects of ASB are blocked. In this case, police have asked that all free calls to mobile numbers be blocked for three months, after which the block will be assessed.

Police last year blocked free calls from three devices in Finsbury Park which were being used for drug dealing, as well as two in Camden.

The Islington Society said two years ago the units had "come out of the blue like a plague of locusts" and existed for the sole reason of making money through advertising.

"The guff about providing a public service, battery charging and connectivity is exactly that: guff," secretary David Trillo told the Gazette.

A decision will be made by councillors on Tuesday January 14.

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