Crime rates in Dalston have dropped by over a third since a gang of drug dealers was taken off the streets in July, police statistics revealed this week. Yet traders on Ridley Road fear it could be too little too late.
This summer saw the arrests of 16 people, 15 of whom were sentenced, following reports of heightened criminal activity in the Ridley Road area of Hackney.
The arrests were the climax of the four-month long ‘Operation Marsican’, a joint crackdown by the Metropolitan Police and Hackney Council who targeted the trading of Class A drugs in the area earlier this year.
Detectives say violent crime has reduced by 34 per cent, with a 61 per cent reduction in violent acts, and a marked reduction in bike thefts as fewer available drugs means fewer people turning to crime to fund their habits.
Mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe spoke at the time of how the arrests demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality of life for Hackney residents. “I hope that the significant results achieved through Operation Marsican bring about a lasting improvement to the area, and serve as a warning to the minority involved in criminality that their behaviour will not be tolerated in this borough”, he said.
Chief Superintendent Steve Bending, Borough Commander of Hackney Police, agreed: “Operation Marsican has been a fully collaborative effort, with positive feedback from residents and businesses in the area”.
However, market traders on Ridley Road told EastLondonLines that they have “never seen the market quieter” suggesting Operation Marsican has failed to increase business in the area.
Gilsun Hussian, 49, works on a stall selling luxury fabrics. “People don’t always know the ins and out of crime statistics ”, she said. “They just know that crime occurs here and they’re deterred from coming here to shop. I’ve seen crimes committed – It happens all the time.”
Meanwhile Peter Julian, 59, whose fruit and veg stall holds a prime position in the market, is also concerned for the future. “I’ve been here all my life and I struggle to remember it being quieter than it is now”, he said. “I haven’t noticed a change in crime rates, and I think it has got more to do with the economy anyway”.
30-year-old Urim Isufi agrees. As the owner of one of the largest outlets for fresh produce in the market, he knows his customers well. “This is a poor area, and you’ll always get trouble in deprived areas. There is a big gang culture”, he said.