Police all ears for word from the wards
There's an ice cream van selling drugs on Galbraith Street.
And that's not all. Drunks are shouting late into the night and tearing around Virginia Quay. New Union Wharf residents aren't happy about graffiti, drug dealing and vandalism, and there isn't enough lighting in St John's Park.
Everyone in St John's community centre has a nagging problem, one that is souring their enjoyment of life on the Isle of Dogs. They're hoping that the person sitting opposite them will be able to help them out.
Blackwall Safer Neighbourhoods Team has dispatched a group of around seven officers to Glengall Grove on a Monday night to hear the complaints of ward residents. It's something that each SNT has pledged to do every six months, but the response is variable in Tower Hamlets.
On this night, 20 people made the trip to Glengall Grove, and Bromley-by-Bow's meeting attracted 40. In Millwall, 11 turned up, but just one person made it to the last Spitalfields and Banglatown gathering.
The meeting features a Q&A with Inspector Terry Ward and Sergeant Tony Burton, but residents are also split into five tables, each featuring a PC.
Over the course of ten minutes, the officers scrawl down issues on a paper tablecloth, from the late-night howling, littering and urinating next to the river on Virginia Quay, to youths intimidating elderly people outside the post office and police responding "with sirens blazing", thwarting possible collars at New Union Wharf.
Sergeant Burton said: "We have these meetings so we can ask people what they think we should be doing.
"They give us lots of ideas, and then we have a ward panel meeting and select three specific ideas that we should be focusing on for the next six months."
For the last six months, the eyes of the team have rested on Robin Hood Gardens. Sgt Burton said that efforts had been made to increase engagement with residents at the Poplar estate. At one point, police knocked on 100 doors in a bid to address anti-social behaviour issues.
Sgt Burton said: "There was no one there prepared to tell us about significant problems on the estate. That's either because there aren't any problems, or because they just won't tell us."
He added that the estate is not likely to be retained as a priority for the next half-year.
"There's nothing more we can really do there", he said.
Priority two centred around reducing problems in Manchester Road, and the team announced it had issued "several" anti-social behaviour contracts through engagement with housing officers. The final focus was to reduce drug taking in New Union Wharf, and Sgt Burton said patrols had been increased as a result.
Inspector Ward announced that Blackwall SNT had managed to secure on-loan PC Michael Mooney until at least September, and that another PC would be joining on March 1. He added that he was also hopeful of adding an officer from the response team "with 12 to 13 years experience".
"It's going to be quite a strong team", he said.
He revealed that the team was currently receiving funding from housing associations for extra patrols on New Union Wharf, Timber Wharf and Island Gardens, resulting in seven arrests and 60 people stopped.
Several Island residents want later patrols to stave off persistent offenders, but he said that this could not be achieved without money.
He said: "The only way we're going to be able to patrol later is to patrol on overtime when we've done our shift hours."
On this note, the inspector urged residents to sign up for the upcoming You Decide event, scheduled for George Green's School on February 23. The scheme allows locals to select where council cash is invested, and he is keen to see £35,000 directed into police operations.
He said: "If I had the choice between an extra officer and £35,000 for operations, I'd choose the £35,000 every time.
"It's a lot more flexible. The extra officer would be fixed into a standard shift pattern, would need to take time off and would have sick days.
"With the money, we could pay officers to go out later at night and we could approach other teams and pay people to work here on a problem for a particular period of time. Then we could guarantee action in problematic areas."
To find out more about You Decide, go to towerhamlets.gov.uk/youdecide, call freephone 0800 035 1395 or text YD followed by your postcode to 60060. For more details on Safer Neighbourhoods Teams in your area, go to met.police.uk/saferneighbourhoods