“Grim” Stokie: Drugged up graveyard orgies, aggressive begging and drunks defecating in the street

Abney Park cemetery in Stoke Newington

Abney Park cemetery in Stoke Newington - Credit: Archant

Stoke Newington’s middle-class idyll has been punctured by an influx of “copulating drug addicts, drunks, beggars and robbers”, it has been claimed.

Wholefoods on Stoke Newington Church Street

Wholefoods on Stoke Newington Church Street - Credit: Archant

The less than desirable group has honed in on fashionable Church Street, where terraced houses sell for nearly £2 million.

Author Damian Duggan-Ryan, chairman of the Stoke Newington central community action panel, which holds police to account, says he has received many reports of drug dealing and robberies in secluded Wilmer Place car park.

Mr Duggan-Ryan says heroin addicts can be seen queuing up during the day outside a local chemist for free methadone, while aggressive beggars target the church and High Street areas, particularly near the Whole Foods Market organic shop.

He said: “This is a neighbourhood where a lot of nice young couples – until recently – wanted to settle and raise their children. But all of that is changing now, and fast, it’s quite grim.

“There is loud music coming from the historic Abney Park cemetery, with copulation on the gravestones and orgies around the once-sacred chapel.

“Occasionally, the vagrants, druggies and thieves need to relieve themselves nearby, and Foxtons back wall is convenient.

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“I think a lot of people see many of us in Stoke Newington central as a soft touch, and see the businesses around here as a good bet.”

Atique Choudhury Owner of Yumyum Thai restaurant, which backs onto Wilmer Place agrees the area has become “a bit rough” and is worried it could drive his customers away. He said: “When you come in to Wilmer Place there are people sitting on the wall totally boozed up and drugged up, which isn’t the best advert for our area, plus you have children from William Patten school walk past.

“Then you have an element of aggressive begging going on in the car park, mother with babies in their hands are being asked for money by men who don’t look right, if you have your purse out and someone comes up you are in a vulnerable position.

“Some of these people are there every day of the week, they are so organised they actually take it in turns, as soon as one person finishes the next one takes over, I think we are going back to Dickensian times.”

Acting Inspector of the Stoke Newington neighbourhood policing team, James Reynolds said he was aware of the problems in Wilmer Place and the graveyard, and said patrols have been stepped up, and more officers put on the beat.

He hopes to use new dispersal powers bought in last month to nip the problem in the bud, but said it’s not going to be an overnight solution.

He said: “We work with the council’s anti-social behaviour team to see what we can do on a long-term basis.

“We want to improve the environment so it doesn’t attract the people who cause problems, with improvements in lighting and design.”

A spokesman for the Abney Park Trust said that in the 23 years since the charity was established they had never seen any “orgies around the once-sacred chapel”.

“We would like to know where Damien Duggan-Ryan got this information and when he has heard loud music coming from the cemetery,” he said.

“We have had two music events and two fun days with intermittent music, to help raise awareness and funds for Abney Park.

“During all of these events we diligently check that the decibel level is well below what is allowed in our premise license.

“We have spent the last few years working with the community and volunteers to make Abney Park a welcoming place.

“Over the last few years we have had reports back from the local community saying that they feel Abney Park has become much safer.

“Many of the Trustees, staff and volunteers at Abney Park live in Stoke Newington and have never seen queues of heroin addicts outside chemists, nor beggars being more aggressive than elsewhere.”