Trains, trams – and racism: how East Croydon Station became unsafe for minorities

East Croydon station platforms. Photo: Tom Morris via Wikimedia Commons

Recent figures reveal that East Croydon station has more than twice the number of racists incidents than any other station in the ELL boroughs – and the true figure might be even higher

East Croydon Railway Station is one of the least safe spaces for commuting minorities in the country, figures from the past three years reveal, and the problem is only getting worse. 

At train stations in the ELL boroughs, the count of racist hate crime offenses dwarfed those classified as Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, transphobia or homophobia.  

East Croydon Railway Station had more than twice the racist incidents of any other station in ELL boroughs during this period. This contributed significantly towards its shockingly high tally of hate crimes committed overall. 

The area’s most high-profile racist incident came in 2017 when Reker Ahmed, a 17-year-old Kurdish Iranian asylum seeker, was left with a fractured skull and blood clot after being beaten up a gang who allegedly demanded to know where he was from. 

Total hate crime reports for 2018, 2019, and 2020 to February 7, visualised

Homophobia is the second-most prevalent hate crime at train stations in our boroughs, and East Croydon is joint-equal for the most recorded homophobic incidents in this period with four; a comparatively little number, but too many, all the same. 

And this underlying issue has been present for quite some time. A Freedom of Information Request to the British Transport Police shows that East Croydon Station has been the station with the most hate crimes committed of any in our boroughs since at least the beginning of 2015. 

There are a number of possible explanations. 

East Croydon Railway Station neighbours Lunar House, an office block which houses the headquarters of UK Visas and Immigration. The building has been a regular target for extreme, right-wing protests – from the BNP, to the National Front.  

In 2017, one Twitter user captured a large demonstration strategically organised outside the building, with protestors bearing signs that read, for example: “Immigration Ruined Our NHS & Social Housing”.  

Tony Martin was in attendance as the chair of the National Front, which has infamously established its base of operations in Croydon. 

In February 2019, outside Thornton Heath Station, only two miles away from East Croydon Station, Martin argued with and antagonised Lawrence Wong, a campaigner for United Against Racism and Fascism. The video was later spread over social media

East Croydon Station is also one the nation’s busiest transport hubs. In 2017/2018 figures released by the Office of Rail and Road, it was ranked 18th busiest nationally, with annual entries and exits totalling 23.6 million.  

Undoubtedly, this heavy footfall increases the potential for racist and bigoted expression. 

And the number of crimes committed at the station is, alarmingly, rising. Comparing 2015-2018 with 2018-2020, the average number of monthly hate crime incidents at East Croydon Station increased by nearly 30%. 

This even though “hate crime is still underreported”, states the Safer Croydon Community Safety Strategy 2017/2020. The given figures only include those incidents which are referred to the BTP. 

Compared to other Eastlondonlines boroughs, Croydon has consistently ranked below its counterparts with regards to the prevalence of hate crime in recent years. But the situation at East Croydon Station is a stain on this image. 

This is day one of our Eastlondonlines’ #HatefulLondon series. Read the rest of the series here. 

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