Saturday, March 29, 2008

Blackstock Road raids

Well done and thank you to the cops. I have got pig-sick of the verbal and sometimes physical harassment walking home, the intimidation of passers-by, (especially unveiled women) by posturing, disrespectful gangs of youths, the blatant selling of stolen goods, and the take-over of my neighbourhood by racist, abusive criminals.

UPDATE: Watch the BBC footage here - ( top right, video and audio news)

My local Turkish shopkeepers were all thrilled as well; they have cut out the article and stuck it on the wall of the shop. Everyone in the shop was talking about it. I'm sorry I missed the big bust: I was writing up interview notes, but if I had known I would have gone down and taken pictures. And cheered.

Last month I was hemmed in and groped by a pack of Algerian teenagers outside an internet cafe: they pushed me up against the wall as I walked home at 9.30pm. I screamed at them - roared at them - to stop; they let me go, then they advanced on me, shouting the most filthy sexist and racial abuse and threatening me. I was near a shop where I knew the owners, and knew they had a baseball bat under the counter, otherwise I would never have dared raise my voice back to them. It was the sixth time I have had to shout back at street harassers in the last six months. I didn't bother calling the police because I couldn't face making a statement and wasting more time on these idiots. I went home, had a double whisky and shook for an hour instead.

Late last summer I had to slap away the marrauding hands that grabbed at my thighs and my bag whilst voices hissed at me that I was a XXXX-sucking XXXX English dirty whore who needed to be taught a XXXX-ing lesson.

My 'crime'? Going out of the house in muddy shorts, gardening boots, no make up and a long-sleeved T shirt to buy a bag of compost at 3pm in the afternoon.

I looked at the shops and cafes that were closed today. I was not in the least bit surprised. I could have predicted which ones would be targeted by the police.

I hope these vicious little turds get
a) jailed for a good stretch b) separated from each other whilst in prison c) deported

My tolerance for bullies, criminals, racists and liars is at an all-time low these days. I want my neighbourhood back. This is a very good start.



Blogger Che said...

I am glad the Police are taking action. WHat happened to you is dreadful and i hope that whoever did that to you pays for it. Haopefully the saying " what goes around comes around " is true

March 29, 2008 12:59 am  
Blogger fh said...

It's remedial action after what I take to be years of neglect. And unless there is intensive followup work, including cops on the street, it'll be needed again.

That said, good for you and your well-placed anger. It is past time that normal people -- not the anti-immigration loonies and bigots -- spoke up. Your Turkish shop-keepers, like the Iranians and Pakistanis in my neighbourhood, would all agree that it is not racist to insist on respect and civility.

March 29, 2008 1:37 am  
Blogger seth said...

hi rachel,
i read the articles-sounds like ny of the bad old days. im sorry that u got a scare. hopefully the cops have put a major dent in all the crime in the area. they may have to return in the near future.

all is ok here.busy with work,school,etc. need a new telly as the old one blew out last week. luv my new dell pc-decided to stay with windows xp they offer either xp or vista on some new desktops.

weather is still weird. cold one day then warm the next but little snow this winter-only one major storm.

be well stay safe.

seth :)

March 29, 2008 4:15 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Cops all over the place today - community support officers - and lots of local people talking to them, asking them about the raid, thanking them even. General sense of relief that this criminal fiefdom has been dissipated. The gangs of arrogant sneering backchatting youths on the streets have gone. Posters in all the shop windows advertising a community 'Talk about Street Crime and Meet your local cops' night.

Several shops & cafes boarded up - surprise, surprise, the ones where I used to get harassment when walking past them.

Nice to hear your news Seth. The weather here is mad too.

March 29, 2008 2:26 pm  
Blogger Brennig said...

The bastion of morality, the Daily Mail, suggested in their headline and initial reporting that the police operation was overkill, though it soon became clear that the locals supported the action.

I am horrified at the scenes you have described. I guess that not living in London insulates me from seeing the ghetoisation first hand.

March 29, 2008 3:28 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Best news EVAH is that they have got dispersal orders served outside all the caffs and shops where the scumbag gangs of nasty youths used to loiter, harassing passers-by.

They can only stand outside on their own now.

If they get into a group, they will be moved on and if they don't move on, or return within 24 hours they will be nicked.

Very interesting chat with the coppers outside the library about how long they were working on all this...'s ongoing as well. I might even be able to leave the house in summer and walk down the street in a T shirt without having to cover up in a big shawl.

March 29, 2008 5:57 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

good news Rachel.

March 31, 2008 12:39 am  
Blogger John B said...

I'm surprised by this - I lived on Romilly Road [parallel to Blackstock; scene of the notorious police photos] for 3 years up til last spring.

While the Arabs outside the cafés in Blackstock Road blocked the street from time to time (and were obviously trading in nicked stuff), neither I, my female flatmate nor any of the other women who visited us ever got any grief (and no, they didn't dress in chadors either). I don't think I've ever been anywhere less ghetto-like...

Had it really got that much worse over the last 10 months?

March 31, 2008 3:11 pm  
Blogger IanG said...

Hi Rachel, I know just how you feel regarding the abuse. Yesterday, on the train home I was subject to this from a drunken football individual. I just ignored him, was that the best response or should I have moved down a few carriages when it stopped at a station?

I will record the Newsnight tonight hope to catch you on that - good luck and do keep up the Stirling work!

Best regards

March 31, 2008 10:00 pm  
Blogger Mike Duncan said...


Thank you for your positive comments regarding Operation Mista and for those made by your contributors. I am pleased that we are winning the support of the local community following Phase 1 (Home address raids) and Phase 2 (Blackstock Road raids) on 27th March. We are now engaged in Phase 3, which is the long-term policing solution to eradicate organised crime and anti-social behaviour in your community.

I manage a pro-active team of undercover police and immigration officers (OP Swale) with the sole aim to remove foreign nationals from the UK who cause harm to our communities because of their criminal activity. If we cannot remove them (some nationalities are extremely difficult to deport) we will do our best to put them in prison for their crimes whilst working on a deportation solution.

OP Mista was 18 months in planning and 12 months was spent gathering evidence against 52 of the most harmful criminals. During the operation I have witnessed the harassment of females by these local youths, seen the blatant robbery of people going about their daily business, dealt with the aftermath of the stabbings and been amazed at the volume of stolen property that has passed through Blackstock Road. For each item of stolen property from a burglary, robbery or theft there was a story of loss, fear and violation of somebody’s life.

Nothing has pleased me more in my 21 years in the Metropolitan Police than to see a grown man cry for joy when he re-united with his stolen laptop containing all his family photos, emails, downloads, bank accounts and work all intact (none of it backed up!). The arrested suspect who decided to deprive this man of his memories is in custody awaiting trial.

OP Mista continues, only yesterday we executed search warrants at two more Cafes in Seven Sisters Road (3 arrests made, now a total of 97) as we spread the net to improve the quality of life for residents in the community. I can assure you that more raids will happen as and when we get the intelligence to justify them.

This is where we need your support. If you are not happy with what you see in your community just get in touch with us, you can always contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or contact my team directly. No doubt other criminals will try to fill the gap, so it is important we identify and remove them before they get a chance to embed themselves again.

I also acknowledge from the postings there are legitimate Cafes and businesses in the area who have welcomed the police action. We have done our best to target the premises who gave the criminal gangs refuge to operate within the area, but I am getting to know the good guys too as we sweep through the area. I do not want to upset the decent folk who just want to make an honest living, but in my experience some of the more overtly friendly café owners have turned out to be the worst offenders! I welcome your views on who you think we could work with in the future.

I assume you don’t get many posts direct from the police but I came across your blog by chance today whilst searching for a newspaper article. I think it is important to feedback what we are doing and what we want to achieve on your behalf.


Mike Duncan
Detective Inspector
OP Swale
Metropolitan Police

Email: or

April 23, 2008 6:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although this has been reported all day on LCB, this is the only info I can find in the written media about the result of this important operation:

August 12, 2008 7:08 pm  
Blogger Chansteractor said...

I know this happened over 2 years ago, but I see individuals hanging outside the cafes again.

For the 2nd time this year, I have thwarted a pickpocket attempt on me, whilst walking down Blackstock Road. The first was on my mobile, via the classic 'distraction' technique and the 2nd attempt (3 days ago), by an individual trying to unzip my rucksack as he walked behind me.

The police could do worse than discreetly just monitor the area (and these individuals) from the library across the road for a few hours and see what happens.

September 09, 2010 11:26 pm  
Blogger Scarcely Rarely said...

I found this article trying to find a number for the Neighbourhood Police Station on Blackstock Road. I moved to the area in November 08 and had no idea of the operation that had taken place that year. In the last 6 months have been ashamed to walk guests and visitors to the tube station down blackstock road, with gangs of intimidating men grouping on pavements outside shops. I remember wondering why there always seemed so many gangs of men sitting in cafes - not drinking or eating, just sitting there. Who'd want to go in there to buy anything?!

I am regularly sneered at by men standing in the street. 'whore' is one of their favourite words - I smile at them and lift my chin and walk confidently down the street. I'd LOVE one of them to even try and touch me.

I recently watched someone pickpocketed at the bus stop outside 'finsbury park superstore' and we managed to catch them before running off. We were spat at for our troubles.

So - two years on - is this a return to pre May 2008? I hope not, I really hope not.


October 21, 2010 12:04 pm  

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