#ELLection: Crime, poverty, mental health – the issues our MPs must tackle

With the general election fast approaching, ELL looks at the main problems facing the boroughs. Pic: IHA

With the general election now just four weeks away, ELL takes a look at some of the key issues that each of our four boroughs needs tackling by the elected candidates.


  • A temporary housing crisis has been prevalent in Hackney for some time. The last figures, from February of this year, showed nearly 3,000 families in the borough living in temporary accommodation – an increase of over 400 since just last year.
  • Due to the shortage of temporary housing, more than 800 of these families were placed outside the area.
  • Cllr Rebecca Rennison, who works with preventing homelessness in the borough, told Eastlondonlines: “As the housing crisis worsens, more and more residents are turning to Hackney Council for help. We recently produced a Temporary Accommodation Strategy and, alongside our Homelessness Strategy, this sets out what we are doing to support Hackney residents who find themselves homeless, or at risk of losing their home. Ultimately though what is required is action from central government to enable the Council to build the homes residents need.”
  • A survey by Hackney Matters found that residents who participated were least proud of their local area because of crime.
  • In 2016, Hackney was found to be one of the 10 most dangerous boroughs in London, with the most common crimes being theft and handling. However, last year saw rape and hate crimes soar in the busy borough.
  • Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Cllr Caroline Selman, told Eastlondonlines: “Rape and hate crimes are both offences that Hackney Council takes extremely seriously”. Listed analysis of crime data, encouraging residents to report hate crimes, expanding the community safety team and providing support for victims via the East London Rape Crisis Centre are some of the current actions being taken to combat the issue.


  • Homelessness is a major issue for Lewisham. As we previously reported, the borough had one of the highest numbers of rough sleepers in South East London in 2014/15 – particularly of young people aged between 18-24.
  • A local charity working to combat the issue, 999 Club, sees around 40 rough sleepers on the streets of Lewisham. In March, Megan Toogood from the 999 Club told Eastlondonlines: “We can say there has been a London-wide rise in homelessness since last year and we certainly can see that in the day-to-day services we provide, including showers, breakfast, laundry and advice and support services.”

    999 Club in Lewisham are trying to make sights like this a thing of the past. Pic: Bryan Robb (Flickr)

  • Mental health is another issue that is prevalent in Lewisham. Around 36,000 people aged 16-74 are thought to suffer annually from a mental health condition in the borough, according to Lewisham JSNA. This is against a total borough population, according to the last census, of 275,000 people.
  • Mental health has been highlighted as a local priority, with the rate in the borough higher than that of the London average. The Lewisham Council website currently offers information on getting help with mental health issues, as well as contact information for a number of organisations.


  • A study by End Child Poverty last year found that Tower Hamlets has the worst child poverty rates in the country. In 2015, a shocking 44 per cent of children in the borough were living in poverty – four per cent higher than any other local authority, and the situation remains dire.
  • In November, a council spokesperson said: “Financial hardship is an issue we know continues to affect a number of families, and we recognise that the costs of housing and childcare are important issues in the borough… The 2016-19 Children and Families Plan also puts an emphasis on early and holistic help, in recognition of the need to ensure resources are used in the best possible way.”
    London is infamous for its air pollution problem. Pic; (Wikimedia Commons)

    Air pollution is city-wide problem, but is particularly concerning in Tower Hamlets. Pic: (Wikimedia Commons)


  • Air pollution is undoubtedly a major problem in the borough. As we previously reported, Tower Hamlets has the fourth highest mortality rate related to air pollution, with over 60 per cent of schools and colleges in the borough exposed to dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide.
  • There can be little doubt that Tower Hamlets is one of the most polluted areas in London – an issue that will need tackling by the winning candidates after this year’s general election. For a more in-depth look at what the four major parties are proposing to help combat air pollution in Tower Hamlets, our report can be found here.


    • Crime in Croydon has become an increasingly worrying issue – particularly knife crime. As we reported back in March, knife crime has reached a four-year high, with Croydon ranked within the five worst boroughs for knife related violence after over 1,000 incidents occurred last year – including five deaths. A major issue seems to be that residents are carrying knives for personal safety.

  • This year, road traffic collisions (RTCs) in Croydon were the highest number recorded in London, as we reported in March. Although RTCs saw a citywide increase of 12 per cent, Croydon was unmatched in its high number of road accidents, making it an issue undoubtedly in need of attention.
  • The group manager for Community Safety, Mark Hazelton, listed speeding, falling asleep at the wheel and distractions such as mobile phones as possible causes for RTCs, although there is no definitive reason why Croydon’s numbers are currently the highest in the city.

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