ELL EXCLUSIVE: Drugs are being openly sold outside the main entrance to the Croydon Jobcentre Plus in the town centre.
ELL reporters saw the dealers selling directly to people leaving the centre, which is in Dingwall Road, and within a few minutes of East Croydon rail and tram station.
Over a 90-minutes spell on Tuesday, our reporters, who were in the area on another assignment, witnessed a group of between three and six young men handing small packages to people as they left the Jobcentre in exchange for cash. They were in no doubt that drugs were being sold, although it was not clear what kind of substances were involved.
When the dealers spotted cameras our reporters were angrily confronted with threatening gestures. They also noted a young woman of sixteen being approached by a middle-aged man who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs.
Locals discussed the problem openly. Passerby James Leckey told us: “It’s pretty dire here and really bad for young people. There’s crack and drugs all over the place.”
A member of the Jobcentre staff was asked about the presence of drug dealers. She laughed and said ‘no comment.’ Another member of staff, speaking off the record, said that they were aware of the problem and had informed the police.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions, which is responsible for Jobcentre Plus services, said: “As this happened in a public space, it is for the police to comment. If there’s an indication of criminal activity, we work with the police.”
A spokesperson from Croydon police said: “A Safer Neighbourhood team provides daily patrols in the area and we are not aware of this issue. It has not been raised with us by Jobcentre Plus.”
However, further enquiries have revealed that the area around Dingwall Road is considered a problem by the local force. Sergeant Scott Smith from the Safer Neighbourhood team said: “Nothing surprises me in this part of Croydon. It is a very challenging area and the centre has been classified as a vulnerable location. At no point have I been approached to say that there is any systemic, regular, high-profile activity. I will stamp on any overt use of drugs.”
Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers employed by Croydon Council also carry out patrols in the area. Emma Harris, communications officer for Croydon Council, said: “In the past we have had issues of sleepers and antisocial behaviour in that area. But there have been no specific actions taken by council officers recently. We take issues related to substance misuse and the related criminal activity very seriously.”