Shoreditch Citizens plan march to make East End streets safe for kids

Campaigners are planning a march through London’s East End to reclaim the streets as ‘safe havens’ for youngsters and others at risk.

The intention is to be a visible attempt of the community confronting street crime in the wake of reduced numbers of bobbies on the beat along Hackney Road which march organisers claim is being neglected.

Members of Shoreditch Citizens network meet at St Peter’s Church in Warner Place, Bethnal Green, at 2pm Saturday to march along Hackney Road with representatives from the police.

They hope to get shopkeepers along the busy main road to register their premises as ‘safe havens’ for anyone in trouble.

The London Citizens network is launching its CitySafe Map on October 24 showing all the CitySafe havens and zones across London.

Hackney Road was chosen for a CitySafe zone because of problems with its location as the boundary between Tower Hamlets and Hackney Met police divisions.

“It is split across three policing wards and is often neglected,” said Shoreditch Citizens’ Angus Hawkins, a community organiser at St Peter’s Church.

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“Neither Tower Hamlets nor Hackney take full responsibility for Hackney Road.

“We are negotiating to try and fix some of these problems, such as officers using different radio frequencies which often makes it difficult coordinating a pursuit from one side of the road to the other.”

Many youngsters often feel afraid of walking home after school, say the Citizens’ campaigners.

St Peter’s has been working with nearby Bethnal Green Academy secondary school over the last month to sign up as many shops in the neighbourhood as possible to the ‘Safe Haven’ register. Some 15 shops have so far signed up.

Those marching on Saturday include teachers, youth workers and police officers as well as neighbourhood groups and voluntary organisations.