Police and councillors urge women to report cases of sexual harassment in Blackstock Road

Islington Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

Islington Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Police and councillors are urging women to report sexual harassment in Blackstock Road so they can stop it from happening.

A sign at the junction of Blackstock Road and Somerfield Road. Picture: Amir Dotan

A sign at the junction of Blackstock Road and Somerfield Road. Picture: Amir Dotan - Credit: Archant

Multiple women have reported a problem with leering and catcalling from men socialising on the street, making them feel uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe.

One woman said she's been harassed "50 to 100 times" in Blackstock Road since the age of 16.

She doesn't live in Islington but travels to Blackstock Road so she can get groceries at the Algerian shops.

"I feel like my experiences differ from someone who's not Algerian because [if you are] the harassment increases," she told the Gazette. "This is the experience of many Algerian and North African girls I know. But it's not just Algerians [who do it], it's other people who do it too.

"With me it's mainly in Arabic, inappropriate comments and they follow you. It's quite scary. I have had a guy follow me and get on a train all the way to Walthamstow. I had to get my dad to pick me up."

She added: "It's not Finsbury Park, it's Blackstock Road. There's a lot of coffee shops and shops, so there's bigger congregations of people there. It's always been a meeting point."

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Labour councillor Roulin Khondoker, whose Highbury West ward includes part of Blackstock Road, said: "It's certainly a problem I'm aware of it and people are reporting it to councillors.

"We want to tackle it. A few residents have stepped forward - in many cases not enough have stepped forward.

Insp Thomas Ashley leads all Islington's safer neighbourhood teams. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Insp Thomas Ashley leads all Islington's safer neighbourhood teams. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey - Credit: Archant

"We try to reach out to residents when we hear of incidents of ASB, particularly sexual harassment. And we encourage everyone to report it. In many cases [people] are unsure it will lead to any action, but it will."

Asked why Blackstock Road is a hotspot for this issue, she added: "I don't think it's restricted to that area. I do wonder if it's that tri-borough point where it's that edge of the borough."

Insp Thomas Ashley leads neighbourhood teams in the area.

He told the Gazette: "Our aim is to make Finsbury Park as safe as we can, and that ranges from serious violence to general street nuisance and everything in between.

"We are already doing a lot of work around Blackstock Road to try and address issues there and when we have heard anything, we have taken action.

"We have done a lot of dispersals. But we haven't had any specific crime reports or members of the public coming to us, it's almost third party. We urge people to come forward, it would be extremely helpful because we can't do a lot unless we get specific reports.

Insp Ashley says individuals who commit anti-social behaviour often return to the same spots, so reporting when and where sexual harassment incidents happen will help officers pick the offenders up, even if it's on a different day.

You can report a crime online here.

Alternatively, call 111 in non emergencies.

Islington Council's anti social behaviour team can be contacted on 020 7527 7272.

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