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Finsbury Park phone box 'misery': Three InLinkUK facilities suspended after suspected use for drug deals

PUBLISHED: 16:35 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:44 05 March 2019

The InLink panel allows the public to make free phone calls, use maps and charge their phones. Picture: Siona Ashby

The InLink panel allows the public to make free phone calls, use maps and charge their phones. Picture: Siona Ashby

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BT and its partner InLinkUK have temporarily suspended free calls to mobiles from three Finsbury Park telephone boxes due to fears they're creating "misery" by facilitating drug deals.

The Met Police and Islington Council believe free InLinks phone boxes in Blackstock Roastock Road, Fonthill Road and Seven Sisters Road have been used to arrange drug deals since they were installed in late 2017.

Neighbours have made a series of complaints about antisocial behaviour linked to these spots in recent months, prompting calls to mobiles to be suspended while Islington discusses solutions with its tech partners and the Met Police.

Islington’s crime chief Cllr Andy Hull (Lab, Highbury East) said: “These free-phone wi-fi units are intended to provide a useful service to the public.

“However, in certain areas they have unfortunately attracted people intent on abusing them and making life a misery for residents living nearby.

“I’m glad to see InLinkUK has recognised the problem and is taking responsibility for it, committing to listen to and work with the council and local police to find a solution and monitoring closely the way its units are being used.

The three aforementioned InLinks are still providing ultra-fast WIFI, calls to landlines and emergency services and access to four key charities: Samaritans, Childline, End Youth Homelessness and Runway Helpline.

Matt Bird, general manager of InLinkUK, said: “Unfortunately, we have seen some isolated incidents where a small number of users have abused the service and we’re committed to addressing that.

“As a result of the discussions and as part of our continued efforts to better serve communities, BT and InLinkUK have temporarily removed the ability to make free phone calls to mobile phones from three InLinks in the borough.

“We will monitor the impact of this change and will continue to engage with the council, community and the Police to ensure that the InLinks remain a welcome addition to Islington’s community.”

InLink’s is a start-up with an Aldgate HQ which partnered with BT to replace existing payphones with smaller models offering a range of free services.

These are funded by advertising and don’t cost councils anything.

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