Fears after Islington estates lose PCSOs to the Olympics

Residents fear a crime-ridden summer after losing almost 40 per cent of the borough’s police support officers, who have been head-hunted for the Olympics.

Nineteen of Islington’s 48 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are no longer on duty and have begun training to become fully-fledged police officers during the 2012 Games and Diamond Jubilee.

The Met has promised they will be replaced by the end of the year, but many people are worried gangs and bored teenagers will run amok with police numbers reduced.

Residents on the Spa Green Estate in St John Street, in the Clerkenwell ward, which lost two of its three PCSOs on Feburary 20, are scared unchecked gang activity will make them prisoners in their own homes throughout the summer.

Esther Mwape, a mother who has lived on the estate for 15 years, said: “It’s got so much worse since the PCSOs went – it’s started already. Last weekend there was a gang of 20 teenagers on the estate running riot with bottles.

“It makes you scared to go out of the house. My eldest is 14 and I don’t let him go out alone, it’s such a shame because we live on the seventh floor, but the estate play area is just full of these gangs.”

Peter Fabbri, 65, who has lived on the estate for some 60 years, said: “We do have a problem with gangs coming onto the estate, and the police don’t come down here that often. But the PCSOs would patrol – they would talk to the kids and move them on.

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“But since they have gone, more gangs have been hanging around and a lot of people are scared to come out of the house.”

A spokeswoman for Islington Police said the neighbouring Bunhill ward was working at full complement and providing cover. She added that “substancial recruitment” was taking place to ensure Islington was “back to full establishment as soon as possible.”

Sup Simon Corkill, acting borough commander while Mike Wise is also seconded to the Olympics, spoke about the impact the summer’s celebrations will have on Islington at a full council meeting last Thursday. He said: “We have looked at how many officers we will have to provide and we are confident we can still operate. But it will be a hard, long summer.”