Islington shopkeepers wracked by fear after London riots
More than a week on from the worst rioting in a generation and shopkeepers say the streets remain cloaked in an atmosphere of unease.
Throughout Islington, looters raided stores, smashed shop windows and roamed the streets in packs, creating a feeling of tension that still pervades the borough.
And traders that were the victims of the mayhem have increased security, employed more staff and even performed night time vigils in order to get their businesses back on their feet.
Muhammad Naz, owner of Food City, in Essex Road, Islington, which was looted during the riots, said: “We are trying to get back to normal but it will take time. All the staff are really scared something like this will happen again.
“We have fixed the shutters and employed an extra person at night, but still their confidence has not returned.
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“Business is really down. Normally we are very busy in evenings and weekends because we are the only 24 hour shop nearby. Now, people are scared to be out on the street at night. They all try to get their shopping done early and get back indoors.”
Jamal Jama, manager of the Hi Tech Enterprise, in Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park, that was torched during the riots, said: “Even though things have calmed down now, the situation is still a mess. We are very worried about security and have to keep checking the shop all night because the doors are still broken and they are expensive to replace.
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“We don’t know how long it will take the insurance to pay and the customers keep complaining about the smell of smoke. It’s not good at all.”
Kamal Akgul, who runs the Silver Star newsagent which was raided last week, said: “We have been worried about it, but we feel a bit safer now because the police have caught the people who did it after seeing their faces on the CCTV.”
However, for bigger chain stores regular service seems to have resumed more quickly.
Despite suffering two attacks in two nights, Carphone Warehouse in Seven Sisters Road, Holloway, only closed for one day.
Adriana Gomez, supervisor of Blacks, in Upper Street, Islington, which looters tried to break into, said: “For us everything has calmed down. The boards in the broken window are down and we had the glass replaced. We only closed early for one day, and now everything is back to normal.”
Councillor Catherine West, leader of Islington Council, said: “Whilst Islington was fortunate to be spared the very worst excesses of the London riots last week, several of our local shops and small businesses suffered damage. I completely condemn these criminal acts carried out by a small minority but causing damage that affects our whole community.
”We are working hard to ensure we do everything we can as a council to help small businesses – who represent the lifeblood of our local economy – get back on their feet.”