BBC OnePanorama


Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 13:08 GMT
No go Britain? London
A demolition sign

Your reports

Tufnell Park
i have been in this area twice, both times i have been confronted by the large group of youths hoody's the second time i was attacked taken in to the block of flats beaten and robbed. a very dangerous area and should be avoided.

My family and I have been living in Mitcham for over 25. It has always been known as a troubled area, but certainly not as bad as it has become in the last five years. The street where we live has become a mass meeting area for bored youths whose parents are never to be seen to enforce any sort of curfew on their offspring. These youths stay out until all hours screaming and shouting amongst themselves or at passers by and generally causing a nuisance with footballs, bits of wood, stones, etc. The latest addition to this is bricks since they have somehow managed to take down my neighbour's brick wall without much notice from anyone. It wouldn't be much of an issue if the behaviour wasn't so anti -social or if they decided go and do whatever it is they do at the local park. But they don't go near the park as it is filled with drug users as well as often being the scene of a crime where guns and knives are involved. The local authority choose to ignore my concerns but they do however write to me with asking me how I feel about the introduction of wheelie bins or my view on the recent influx of eastern european migrants. The police tell me that they really have very little power in resolving the issues down my street, but I should report all incidences when they happen. I find, however, that everytime I pick up the phone, I am on hold for 45 minutes and by then the nuisance would have disappeared.

Mitcham is a small town and historically, nothing really happens here, but within the last year there has already been two cases of murder that I know of. One of the victims happened to be someone I knew and grew up with and it is because of this that I no longer feel safe walking through Mitcham. I don't even feel comfortable walking down or my own street for the fear of abuse both physical or verbal. I find this really sad as I grew up in this town. This change is not just happening here, it's happening everywhere in Britain. The government needs to place this somewhere near the top of their agenda as this problem is not going to go away.

i live in Camden Town, and the drug related violence has increased so much in the last 2 that i have been living here that i am actually scared to leave my flat once dark. you can not walk down the road without being asked to buy drugs, that i can handle, but now they hassle you to buy them to the extent of getting violent. two weeks ago two friends of mine were getting into a cab in camden near the station when a man approached one of them and asked him to buy cocaine, my friend refused and they turned on him. the next thing he knew he was on the floor and had 4 of them around him and one was shouting 'shank him' which is street talk for stab him. all 4 men put there hands in there pockets and luckily my friend got away. he rang for help but in the mean time his friend was whacked on the head with a brick and needed 15 stitches. from living in camden, on the high street, i can see the extent of the crime. there is an underworld drungs ring which is getting worse. there are three groups, the older lot that dont offer drugs they just stand opposite the station near Barclays bank and keep an eye on everyone, making sure everyones doing what they should be. then theres the kids, around 20 years of age, there the ones that sell the drugs and do the dirty work and then theres the crack heads the ones stealing and hustling just to get there next fix. theres too many stabbings and violent attacks going un noticed and not enough police on the street. even on saturday night walking home with my boyfriend we seen one of the 'crackheads' arguing with some men on a night out not looking for trouble, within seconds 4 more 'crackheads' turned up, we carried on walking home and within seconds we heard police sirens. this is in the main bit of Camden, right opposite the station with plenty of people about and yet it doesnt put these people off. the police are quick to respond but not to prevent, its getting out of hand.

I am an overseas student from China,and have been in UK for 3 years.One thing i really get sick is the YOBs on street.I worked for a local supermarket every saturday till 10PM,I had a bad day yesterday night ,cos several teens came to our store and bought some softdrinks,but their dressing looks like Yobs,wearing cap,coat.Our supervisor stopped them went out,they were suspected as thefts,and another reason was one of them beat up our staff 2weeeks ago on street after late night work.So the boy called him mom caming to store.Its the worst mom i have never seen in my entire life,swearing since the beginging,end up with policeman's help.All i want to say is that how can a successful industrial country in history is worsing off in social behaviour?

West Thamesmead
I moved to West Thames 12 months ago, on one of the new developments for the Thamesgateway - yes the labour governments great idea. It was a BIG mistake.

Unsociable behaviour is a problem, graffitti, kids from households who do not seem to have parents as we would know them destroy and damaged the area and intimidate you in gangs, fraudulant mortgage gangs are huge(property values have dropped £50,000 plus)identity theft, theres just too much. I had my post box broken into within 8 weeks of living here. My identity was stolen. These gangs of criminal visitors break security gates, fly tip , kick doors in and intimidate others. The banks have given out mortgages to west african criminal gangs with fake ids by the drove, they fight in the street, I had a shotgun incident in my block from these same people. The rest of the time they keep me awake with their constant parties. If you say anything they damage your car. The police are out to this area every week.

Its not the Britain I knew, I have never seen behaviour like this in my life and it is frightening that it is happening. The whole of this side of London is clearly 'Chav Country' - only the minority seem to go to work. Go to Woolwich on a weekday and it is bursting at the seams with single mothers with buggies - feeling like its everyone elses fault. They are so agreesive. I feel that Britain is going down the pan. I am stuck with my mortgage and negative equity because of this - all because of criminal gangs and unsociable behaviour and the chavs of Britain killing family values and destroying the structure of a society. I dread to think what Britain will be like in 10 years time. I will be moving out of the UK as soon as I can.

Hackney really is the worst. The streets are dirty, noisy and polluted. I think I have seen a street cleaner 2 times in my street in the last 7 months and judging by the amount of rubbish in the street that would be about right. The libraries are the poorest excuse for a library I have ever seen in my life. I've had the misfortune to visit the local hospital and I can honestly say, I can see how one can pick up an infection in there - the toilets at my work are cleaner than that place. God forbid you need to talk to the police because nobody answers the phones in the Hackney police station and since I moved from Hackney Central to De Beauvoir town not long ago, things have just gotten so much worse that my partner and I have decided that it is time to move to the Continent. I often work nights and my partner either has to take me to work in the car or accompany me to the bus stop because it really is THAT dangerous over here. And coming back from work at 6 am on a weekend morning with all the drunks on the bus and then having to walk from the bus stop to our home is very, very frightening. I have lived in many not very nice places in London and in the US cities but I have never been so afraid to walk alone at night even on the main road. There is no police on foot here at all, the only ones you see are whizzing by while chasing someone. In our new shared ownership development, local teenagers come and regularly steal bicycles that are locked up in a supposedly safe store. Sometimes they just vandalize them for the hell of it. This has happened so many times that we are all getting worried as to when will they move onto to flats themselves? The housing association that owns the building has just told us that we just have to accept the fact that these thing happen in London and there isn't anything that can be done. And the police told us that there isn't anything they can do either. London really has gone down hill. So much so that I don't have a single friend here who isn't planning to leave this country. And that's on top of all the ones that have already left.

Finsbury Park
Groups of youths hanging around in the street, crowding around parked cars that don't belong to them, sitting on them. not respecting other peoples property. sitting on wall of private house. usually frightened to challenge them, if brave enough then just get barrage of abuse. fighting in the street a few weeks ago, i tried to take photo with digital camera but light was too poor. reported to police via website after several worrying days but no action was taken, police did respond to 999 call when fighting was taking place, but arrived with blue light flashing which warned most of the trouble makers and allowed them to run away. have to put up with varying levels of menace all the time.

I hate walking around on my own at any time of the day for fear of attack. I don't go out on my own in the evening and only get the bus at night if my partner is with me and we are going out. We always get a taxi back and never walk back after dark. There is always something happening on the street; some one was murdered a couple of weeks ago, some one tried to break into our house twice and then there are the neighbours themselves. Some arguments are so violent that the police are called, Not that I would call them in case someone finds out. I don't even report loud music as its just not worth the concequences. I wish I could walk around freely and wear what I want and carry what I want and live in a house that does'nt have millions of locks and alarms.

Denmark Hill
In SE London in the Denmark Hill area there have been several vicious attacks on people which have resulted in serious injury and hospitalisation. There has been no coverage in the press and no police presence in the area. There is currently a yellow notice board on Denmark Hill opposite the Fox pub announcing an attack on an elderly man. I personally know two of the victims who are very dissatisfied with the police handling of the matter.

I live in a basement flat with poor ventilation. If I open my window at night I am likely to have burglers jump in and demand money. On the last occasion a burglar threatened to set fire to me and my flat if I did not give him my phone, he had a rag and a lighter in his hands and set fire to it leaning through the window. I managed to scare him off and called the police. Their response was so poor that I was more upset by them than by the arsonist who had tried to kill me.

Wood Green
There was a shooting not a mile from our house a short time ago. Another "incident" that closed roads off a few days after that. According to the local paper's report of the former incident, there is a "gang known to Police" that roam the area... I would never walk to a local shop no more than 700-800 yards away after darkness, chosing to drive there instead or to a further away local supermarket shop. There are always persons that have a can in a brown bag at any time of the day and some that have the glazed look of a drug addict, about their appearance too. People barge into you as you walk down the High Road, so handbags are never safe. I choose to drive to much farther away shopping vicinities instead of walking a short distance to a fairly sufficient, wide selection of shops and banks, as it's so undesirable. My Husband in fact, came across a man running away with a lady's bag about 18 months ago, but couldn't get a firm enough grip on it to retrieve it for her. Need I go on...?

Stanmore Middlesex, a leafy suburb, unspoilt, i dont think so! where i live there are large gangs of teenagers with their mothers high on drink and drugs intent on intimidating local residents, fighting, drinking, verbal abuse till five in the morning, and to top it all when the police arrive after several phone calls they shake their hands.

I actually live in Sutton which I'm glad to see has already been mentioned a few times for it's dreadful reputation, but on the whole I feel Croydon, where I work at the weekends, is a hell of a lot worse. There are gangs of "chavs" (and yes I don't care if that is the Un-PC term for those morons) all over the highstreet who give me absolute HELL as I dare to dress differently them. On Friday nights I have to work till 9pm and used to get the train home from West Croydon station. I eventually gave up on this after being mugged twice and despite reporting this to the police getting no sort of adequate response.

South Norwood is increasingly becomming an anti-social playground for youths who have no discipline and roam the streets at all hours. It is not safe to walk home at night. I have written to the housing association where most of the troublesome children live, but as yet they have not responded. This country has become a place whereby people are frightened to speak out. Most of my friends have advised me to do nothing, but I feel that it is vital not to allow such dispicable behaviour to go unchallenged. If we stand by and tolerate such anti-social behaviour, we become almost as bad as those commiting the crimes. We say that it is acceptable rather than dealing with the problem. These children need to learn valuable lessons of morality and compassion.

West Hendon
I have had 5 bicycle stolen in the last 9 years of living at West Hendon. 2 years ago the local "ASBO"s attempted to steal a bicycle from my back garden. I prevented them. However since then I have called the police on numerous occasions and they dont seem to respond and deal with the havoc these ASBOs are cauing in our neighbour. I reported a stolen motor bicycle, the police recovered the bike but not the boys who stole the motor bike. Even though I know exactly who they are. Most recently they set the local post box alight and again the police didnt react (last year i reported the same individuals trying to set the post box alight - when I confronted them they said they would beat me up if I reported the incident to the police). The excuses I get are that they are having to deal with higher priortity calls and are under resourced. I find this incredible to believe given that the biggest police college is located in Hendon The local ASBOs have now started to threaten me.

I live in a nice town, never had much trouble when i first moved here but now the high street every evening has groups of kids just hanging around and causing trouble. They used to hang down the park and the police were called almost every night, now they have moved to where the shops are and the shop keepers are getting a hard time. We have noticed a lot of police are present now and they are excellent if they have been called out. But it doesnt seem to have stopped more kids joining these gangs. I wouldnt and not many people i know would walk down the street in the evenings. Most of the kids have asbos but dont seem to care...

I have lived in Camden Town all my life. In the last ten years the area between Camden Underground Station and Camden Lock has become overrun by people peddling drugs. It is very intimidating to have to walk past these people. Inverness Street, which branches off the High Street is now too scary for me to walk down. Even in broad daylight there are always gangs of youths standing on the corners of both streets. I cannot recall the last time I saw a policeman in this area. It seems to me that the police have given up on the area.

East London
I have just moved into a new house in this area,last week I had a note put in my door 'from a resident' who told me that youths had been trying to break into my house via my back garden! I now cannot sleep I am a lone parent with two sons and I feel afraid. The police were called apparently but failed to show up! It is getting worse in this country!

I have lived in Hayes for the 35 years and have seen the area go from a fairly friendly working class area and a nice place to live to what i would describe as a ghetto.The problems start with graffiti being sprayed twice as fast as it can be removed with the "artists" openly going about their work in full view of passers by knowing they wont be challenged or if they are caught they will only get a badge of honour commonly known as an asbo.Then there are the gangs of nockturnal hoodies which besiege the town every night , their shouting and swearing is one of their nicer traits and being racially abused because im white every so often is now water off a ducks back. Nobody i know given a choice would walk through the town after dark as your more likely to bump into one of them yellow police incident signs than a constable.As a consequense famalies who have lived here for years are moving away en masse and i hope to be one of them sooner rather than later.

I work as a train driver in South Eastern London and I see anti social behaviour EVERY day. Out towards places like Sevenoaks, it's gangs of white burberry capped youths regularly setting fire to trains, intimidating and drunkeness. Travelling on to the London side of Bromley, the gangs are different more mixed races with "steaming" of people and trains - etching, thieving, intimidating. They are all hoodied and they are all very scarey. As a suburban train driver, all of my work is "Driver Only" and if I were to call BTP, it can take hours for them to arrive. The Blackfriars - Sevenoaks line is typical of other lines (like the lines taken on by Ken's new "Overground") in that it is viewed by the youths as an easy "get away" and it's totally free to them because there are only a few random ticket checks. Just spend a couple of evenings travelling alone up and down on the Blackfriars - Sevenoaks trains or North London Line to see how bad things have got: perhaps hidden camera or something with comments on how relaxed the journalist feels through the night... I particularly think that alcohol should be taken a LOT more seriously in connection with travelling on the railways. In the past 7 days, I have had a train entirely etched between Beckenham and Crofton Park by a large hoodied gang, and an arson attack on a train at Bat and Ball station.

Tooting is generally a really good area, except for one thing: I have noticed an increase in the amount of fly-tipping and general rubbish on the streets. This is particularly a problem on Mondays when shops put out their rubbish bags and people rummage through them. Related, is that these rubbish bags are full of recyclable material - why are businesses not being encouraged to recycle more?

Barnet/Shepherd's Bush
I've lived in High Barnet with my family for years and have never felt unsafe or threatened. Burglaries and other things happen but oothing major has ever happened to anyone I know in the area. In fairness, it is quite a nice, middle class area. But nowhere is perfect and recently there have been a couple of worrying incidents - in particular one where some lads were walking down my parents' road carrying crow bars and hammers, clearly looking for somewhere to rob. And that was in broad daylight!

I've recently moved to Shepherds Bush and must admit to feeling a bit more nervous walking home on my own at night as there are quite a few local wierdos around the station and so on. The bright side is that there is usually someone around. What I have really noticed strongly is the ethnic difference. There is still some Afro-Caribbean influence, but Middle Eastern and African Muslim influence is much more noticable. Despite finding it sometimes odd to be the only white person on the bus, I don't mind - I'm very happy to have so many nice Arabic restaurants just round the corner! However, I have noticed that there is not much integration between people. There are certain shops where everything is written in Arabic, and everyone talks in Arabic, and then there are the other shops. It's easy to talk glibly about communities, and drawing people together, but how do you make people do that? But none of these people make me feel more or less unsafe than anywhere else. "No go Britain" is a bit extreme if you ask me.

I've basically grown up in the area around Heston & Southall.Over the years the Indian and Pakistani community has seen an integration of Afghani and Somali communities too.As a West London community we are extremely tolerant.After 7/7 Muslim women didn't fear reprisal attacks misdirected towards them. We celebrate Eid, Diwali and Xmas with fervour just showing how well we have integrated;schools here have a big hand in this achievement as do Teachers. Although we have our fair share of crime and social vices in the area I feel its generally because the youth have nothing better to do.There's no doubt that the area is a little run down but you still get an iota of respect from others which can't be said for other places around here. Is it that the comunities here have better sway or control over their children?Or the people here have strong cultural values? The other day my son stopped a boy of 15 hitting an elderly gentleman.My son is only 16. Later he and a group of his friends made the reckless boy realise the stupidity of his deed.We are what we teach and this is reflected by our children.We need to go back to the old school when manners were taught at home and reinforced at school.

I like living in Sutton. I feel safe, the council are very responsive, the town centre has a nice atmosphere and my neighbours are just lovely! I know there are some "dodgy" areas and I'm fortunate ennough to live on the nicer side of the borough, but I'm sure this is the same for every London borough. As for London as a whole, I do feel more unsafe than I did 5 years ago. This is mainly due to having to walk past past and ride public transport with hooded teenagers that are abusive, loud, drunk and probably armed with knives. I think we need to look at dicipline in schools - this is where we can start to teach our next generations to respect others and behave.

Mile End
I am fortunate to live in an area that seems quite safe, even in the evenings. (I appreciate it may feel different for females). I think this is because there are few nightclubs or big pubs in this area and gangs can be avoided. In inner London the level of safety varies a lot even within a small area. The problem of anti-social behaviour will get worse however if the decline in values continues and the law continues to allow people to get away with it. I hate to be pessomistic but I will emigrate if I can.

I live in one of the safest London boroughs (Sutton) and yet listening to the locals talking in the shops you would think we lived in Chicago in the 30s! In the local paper this week the local police chief has reiterated that Sutton is not only very safe but that crime rates are falling still further. We have Community Police around very frequently and last week they were helping the Transport Police catch fare dodgers as they alighted from buses in Carshalton High St. I think they do a good job locally.

I moved to London from the midlands 10 years ago. I can honestly say London is getting much worse for localised crime. Thw first week i was here, someone tried to break into my car, and left the handle hanging off. I have witness the burning of cars and fights in the road. Gangs of youths are the latest phase. Hooded up and often with bicycles,they can quickly hit and run their varing targets... local train stations seem popular with snatch and run incidents being reported,and yellow police boards in evidence!If its not vanderlism its grafitti. A local underpass consistanty wrecked and daubed. The council spent a fortune doing it up! It did'nt take long to take the shine off! The latest craze, to throw lighted fireworks under cars and watch them smoulder and fill with smoke. It happened to my car this week...the 3rd this week in just one street! The Police came after about 20 min. A quick fast drive down the street with lights and sirens blazing,which does nothing to the gang who was long gone, or raced indoors, only to emerge later or the following night for the same routine of mayhem. The Police said they had done nothing else that night but run around after firework incidents! What a waste of police manpower. Not to mention the late night incidents of violence and drunkeness around Tooting Broadway and the tube. I have witnessed on my way home open head wounds and blood on the pavement. Leave my door open at night? You must be joking! The place would be cleared out within the hour! It it was'nt for a well paid full time job, i would leave this depressing capital city, like thousands of others have already done, tomorrow!

I live in Colindale near Edgware. Actually I live quite near to the tube station. I have one observation to make: there are no buses running from my neighborhood to Hendon Central. I go to university near around there. The only means of transportation is tube which is quite expensive. It is a 25 minute walk, and often it is a problem to get there quickly and comfortably. It would be convenient if there a bus service running from the Colindale tube station to Hendon Central.

London's streets and nabourhods aer shocking. The yobs today are in control of society. It is hard for an adult to tell a young person that they are wrong because they are so rude.I see with my own eyes, kids as young as TEN out on the streets after midnight. I believe that the parents are to blame. They are the ones who should be clamping down.

Really not a bad place. OK, the centre gets a bit lively on a Friday or Saturday night, but there is a visible police presence. In general, I feel perfectly safe walking anywhere whether by day or night. It is important to realise that fear of crime restricts one's movements far more than crime itself. I accept that we see the effects of vandalism graffiti and drug use - but you get that everywhere and it's not as visible as in many rural communities. I feel very fortunate to live there and I am sure that many parts of South West London are equally pleasant places to live.

I've lived in Haringey for 2 years and its going down hill fast. The worst experience I've had is being burgled. The burglars first tried to break my back door in one friday night, but I interupted them, so a couple of days later they kicked in our front door (in broad daylight!) and took everything, doing the same to the 2 flats above, finally driving away in our neighbours car! What can you do to protect yourself and your property when thieves are as brazen as that?! And why shouldn't they be brazen when there's no deterrent. All they can expect is an asbo and maybe a nice rehabilitating adventure holiday.

Shoreditch and Camden
In the 18 years since leaving uni I had never been burgled. The house in Shoreditch was robbed seven times in five years. Two of those involved violent confrontations and the police are aware that the crackhead who did it is a one-man crime wave, nonetheless, they can't quite be bothered to arrest him. Hackney has a huge crack problem and Shoreditch seems the main area for stealing and mugging. There is broken glass everywhere. Similarly Camden is full of drug dealers, the instant you leave the station they are on you offering you "skunk". But other than their once yearly token raid the police do nothing, in fact you see the CSO's standing round and chatting with the drug dealers and only bothering to search and arrest the people who buy from them. What is this all about. I see where the criminals gather, where they sell drugs, where they sell stolen goods and the police do nothing. Life in the inner city is apalling and, like about two thirds of my friends, I'm just working in London so that I can earn the money to leave this dying former first world slum and move to a politically and socially progressive life on the continent. England has had it's day. This country is finished and it's time to get out.

Chiswick is a very nice area, quite affluent, and seems to a be a target. In my block of flats daytime burglaries have been common for many years, though upgrading our locks and installing CCTV has apparently eliminated the problem. After dark there is a lot of crime - car thieves can be seen openly inspecting cars, and there are a lot of (sadly, black Afro-Caribbean) youths who travel on bikes and mug you if you're unlucky to get in the way. I have lived in Chiswick for nearly 12 years now, and while it is a great place to live, certainly better than most of London in terms of criminal/anti-social activity, there is no sign of these problems being solved.

I live in a small community called Silvertown (E16) in London - there are approximately 250 homes on the estate. In 1994 the Government and local airport (London City) provided a grant allowing the homes to be renovated, double grazing to be installed and remove walls that were separating blocks of houses - this made the area very pleasant, clean and residents showed a bit of pride in the area. In the last 5 years the local borough (NEWHAM) has insisted on replacing any locals who leave (or die) with immigrants who have no respect for the are or it's inhabitants. There are children playing football into the early hours (the area is all brick and concrete so noise is very loud), children spit from balconies (and when they or their parents are confronted you get verbal and physical abuse)(in my case they even vandalised my car when I asked the children to stop spitting). Drugs are readily available in the area as are guns. I and many of my neighbours have contacted the lo! cal council for help (both local housing officer and during the evenings, the local Noise Abatement officer - no action has been taken). Police, when only patrol in daylight (and in pairs). We have a local residents meeting on the first monday of each month - the november guests will be the police and council representatives - i'm sure they will give us the usual waffle about them doing their best - but as a tax payer I feel that the area has been killed due to the council dumping the dregs of the earth into my local community and leaving them (and us) to their own devices. The value of properties is dropping. Older people are scared to go out after dark. We love it when it rains because the local yobs stay off the streets and give us a break. Newham is a Labour run borough and it's a real labour to live it it - congratulations on creating a dump from a very pleasant area.

The authorities are a joke. after my mothers car was broken into, the police didnt even bother to turn up after waiting 45min to get through to them. Obviously smashing in a car is acceptable now. As this is the UK i'm not suprised that my mother pays her taxes and gets nothing in return. Yet because i'm young i'll get pulled over in my car and talked to like crap by arrogent police that THINK their doing their job. my opinion of the authorities is so low that i cant wait to finish university and emigrate abroad. This is my home but it has changed so much for the worse that like i imagine millions of people are thinking, get out of here before it gets worse.

Isle of Dogs
I cycle home through the Isle of dogs. I have had fireworks fired at me, stones thrown , used condoms thrown at me (where did 10 year olds get them from?), been knocked off my bike and had once almost got mugged for my bike. The thing is that this has all been by groups of kids aged between 9 and 15. When I got knocked off my bike, there was a group of 25 kids. Not wanting to be intimidated I phoned the police right in front of them ¿ moving to a local kebab shop for safety during the call. I told the police my situation and asked them to come quickly as by this point I was surrounded. Luckily the kids moved off sheepishly, but the kebab owner threw me out as it was bad for business ¿ so I waited for 30 mins, alone bleeding, for the police to come. When they did, they took my details and surprisingly two people appeared (they had been keeping away for fear of attack) who had witnessed the attack and also gave statements. Two weeks later I got a letter from the police saying ! that they would not take matters further. Cyclists are seen as easy targets as they tend not to stop as they have to worry about their bikes, so the kids have learned to pick on them. Also seeing most adults fear that they would end up in more trouble than the kids if they fight back, kids just laugh if you shout at them, and the police don¿t take such events seriously, kids just continue with this behaviour.

West Hampstead
West Hampstead feels safe, though occasionally a few groups of hoodies make their way from the station to do whatever it is they do. I moved here because I knew my wife would be commuting late at night and I didn't want to have to worry about her. I feel it is worth paying more rent in order to feel safer. I feel very sorry and very angry for people who have to live in fear. The government needs to address this issue as a matter of urgency and priority. Simply raising issues of 'respect' is not good enough!

I live on a council estate that has a bad name and i hate it, if i could move id get as far away from london as possible. When i moved here 2 years ago on i went to the shop on the estate and a girl flipped out and threatened me with a knife. I rang the police and their advice was 'if you see her again run'. I was pregnant at the time... Another morning i woke up to find half the estate sealed off with police tape as a young bloke had been shot. Nearly every day there are 'hoodies' as some people call them hanging about. They have no respect for anyone or anything.I sometimes think i am the only person left in chingford with any manners, i mean how hard is it to say thanks if someone gives way to you or stops to let you cross the road??? Ok so that last comment may sound petty but its the little things that make an area nice to live in, and chingford im afraid is going downhill fast.

I've lived in Stratford in East London for nearly 20 years. Yes, lots of changes over that time, mainly for the better. And I've never felt threatened on the street. I think that basically it's a pretty good area.

My area's really great - we have all kinds of people living together, we have great neighbours. Our Hindu and Muslim neighbours invited us over to watch some fireworks they setup for a combined Eid&Divali festival, the last robbery on our street was seven years ago and we are on a main road opposite a bus stop. All I can say, is well done to my council

I have lived in two different flats, each a few yards from the infamous 'Murder Mile" over the past ten years. In that time, I've had a couple of hairy moments with gangs of aggressive teenagers (14-year-olds seem to be the worst) and twice have seen people mugged outside my house. Not good, but it doesn't make this a no-go area. Far from it - the received wisdom is that Londoners would rather lick the pavement than talk to their neighbours, but since moving into my current place three years ago many of my neighbours have become good friends. My local corner shop gives me credit when I don't have enough cash and occasionally throws in a free bottle of decent wine as an ad-hoc loyalty scheme. Before Hackney, I lived in 'Marylebone Village' in the West End, a horrible, unfriendly, alienating place where, guess what? a man was shot in a contract killing a few yards from my front door. I'm not suggesting that violence, public urinating and other inconsiderate behaviour should ! all be excused as being part of life's rich tapestry, but if you want to live (or work) in a city there's a certain amount of rough you have to take with the smooth. Why should any of us think it's our right to be insulated from the difficult or unpleasant aspects of human nature?

Whitton, Middlesex
I learnt to drive, I never walk anywhere, gained a few pounds but would not venture out anywhere after dark unless in my car, and my town is very quiet and peaceful. Bought my children cars as soon as they passed their test and never had to worry about them getting home safely. Perhaps I am neurotic but I am still alive, have never been harrassed or threatened and feel safe in this area.

I've lived in Balham for 5 years, its a good place to live. It feels safe, I particularly like the fact nearby commons (tooting and Clapham) are well used by a cross section of people and are very family friendly. I think we should celebrate the good things in urban life rather than constantly looking for the bad, and we should stop demonising youths, who on the whole are not bad.

I lived in Hackney for a year, and although I can say I didn't feel threatened even with muggings occuring in the next street quite regularly, the reason I moved out was because it was so boring being there. Nothing happened, nothing to do, despite the parks, it felt claustrophobic. If I felt that, then how are the teenage kids who live there going to get their kicks apart from doing a bit of crime, or taking drugs?

Thames Ditton
On Saturday night my wife and I left a party at 11:30 to walk home on using a dark path that runs behind the junior school and under the railway line towards sheltered housing and we were confronted by about 8 youths sporting hoodies (not veils) who declined to move to enable us to pass and then let fly mouthfulls of abusive language. I returned via the same route the following morning to find the entire area covered (and I mean covered - paths as well as walls and back fences etc)in grafitti. When I told friends they suggested we shouldn't have used that route in the first place. Hang on though, when did Thames Ditton become a no-go area and why should we not be able to walk public footpaths without fear or anticipation of threatening behaviour. We really need to address the problem at source (i.e. giving our young people a clearer idea about respect for others) whilst increasing policing which after all forms part of our enourmous council tax bills.

I have lived in various parts of Brixton for over 3 years. The only trouble I have ever experienced was having a mobile phone snatched in Stockwell - annoying, but that could happen anywhere. And to balance that out, the other day, weighed down with shopping bags, I dropped my purse outside my flat without realising - half an hour later there was a knock on the door and it was returned to me. I feel safe walking home at night and on public transport and there is a visible police presence. People in the local shops are friendly, I'm getting to know my neighbours, and am planning on volunteering locally as a way of putting something back into the community. There are problems with guns and drugs, and I could understand that any mother of a teenage boy might worry that they would get caught up in this, but otherwise these are not issues that generally impact on your day-to-day existence - there aren't any pitched battles in the streets! In comparison to my previous experiences in smaller towns, here there is much less of the violent, drinking culture that can make some town centres quite intimidating on Friday and Saturday nights. It's true that there are a few local characters/junkies who will hassle for money and of course there are some social problems, but I would never swap living in such an exciting area with great transport and amenities to live in a quiet rural area where I could shut myself away from social problems but would probably go out of my mind with boredom.

Having been in a state of shock for a bit after moving from Shad Thames to Woolwich last year (but actually getting on the property ladder), I can say there are clear signs of things getting better - the DLR extension will make a huge difference, as is the Royal Arsenal Housing Development. But... the town centre on a week day shows the problems facing the area - hordes of unemployed people and outlet style stores or mobile phone shops, as does the state of vandalism on the trains servicing the town. I insist on meeting my wife from the train late at night as I don't feel happy her walking home in the dark alone, though the only problems I've ever had are people begging

Once considered to be a dangerous area Streatham is becoming 'gentrified' and I feel very safe, howver that said it would be nice to see a police officer patrolling on foot as opposed to screaming past in their patrol car with the 'blues n' twos' on.

After three years living in Norwich at University i returned to Enfield to find it changed beyond all recognition. Massive building of more and more houses causing overpopulation, wide scale immigration with little to no integration have caused this are to have no community and many areas have become dangerous to be in late at night. There has been an large increase in stabbings and shootings. A more worrying predicament it that this is moving outwards as development on the green belt continues. This has become a souless and claustrophic place to live. But no one important lives here so who cares.

Woodford, North London
Woodford by day is a very pleasant area. It is in the evening that it starts to get very different. We don't really have the same problems on a Friday night that there are in other areas, mainly because there are fewer bars and clubs. Young people do however hang around on the high street sometimes, and although I haven't seen them doing anything unsociable, they can still be noisy and intimidating. Overall Woodford is a very nice area to live, as is the whole of Redbridge in my opinion. But it is still quite bad in the south of the borough.

I live in a small block of flats in Hither Green in Lewisham, SE London, and yes, things have definitely gone downhill since I moved here 16 years ago. Particularly so in the last 2 years. I think my own experience of anti-social behaviour is fairly tame, mostly annoying neighbours - from the man who regularly rides his motorbike the wrong way along a one way street doing "wheelies" (illegal, dangerous and noisy!) to noisy late night gatherings on a neighbour's balcony (the noise of talking, singing, and, ultimately, retching) to "accidental" malicious damage caused to the property by thoughtless trespassers hopping over our boundary wall (it's 9 feet high on our side, 4 feet high on the other) and using our property as a shortcut - graffiti ("tagging") and illegal parking. And just recently we suffered 2 fly-tipping incidents on the property. I'm told that other incidents in the area include drug dealing, begging in the street, begging door-to-door, shoplifting, car crime, burglary... So what's being done about all this? Self help: We've done what we can (and can afford) to make the property more secure - when I moved here there was no external door on the block. Now we have an outer door with electronic lock and entryphone system. To combat illegal parking, we've put a gate across the drive. To deter night time prowlers we've put better lighting around the property. And we confront trespassers when we see them. Council help: Fortunately for us, Lewisham council is actually pretty good at dealing with some of these issues and responds fairly rapidly to deal with incidents such as fly-tipping and graffiti. Police help: Recently the police have formed a "Safer Neighbourhoods Team" (SNT) dedicated to dealing with these issues in our area. The officers on the team are dedicated to patrolling in our area and have no other duties. Phone calls go straight to the team's mobile phone, not to a switchboard. So far there have been two public meetings, and reports they have received from members of the public are already helping to catch offenders. The team is not a rapid-response unit, but they can build up a database of trouble spots and act on that information. Life in the suburbs is no picnic, it probably never was and never will be. But it doesn't have to be as bad as it has become lately. Manpower and resources will always be limited, but there is a lot that can be done with what's available. I suspect, however, that we're more fortunate than others in this regard. And the most depressing thing? Everyone complains about the level of anti-social behaviour these days, but despite a massive leafleting campaign in the area, less than 30 people have attended each meeting with the SNT. As my all time favourite piece of graffiti says - "Apathy ru..." And maybe that's the REAL problem.

I've lived in Chiswick for eighteen years. In that time the level of street crime and car thefts has increased exponentially. Despite the rather upmarket prices of property here there is still lot of social housing and the local authority have used it as a dumping ground for some of the worst in society. A few years ago, a single mother with eight children by at least five separate fathers was moved into a house opposite us. Within a very short space of time, the latest 'boyfriend' had moved in and operated a fleet of untaxed, uninsured and unregistered cars whilst openly drug dealing from the property. It took over two years of constant complaints to the Police, the DVLA, the local housing office and finally, my MP before anthing coherent was done to remove this miscreant from the scene, all the while protesting that there was no evidence of drug dealing. Despite offering to be the council's witness in court, the tens of thousands of pounds of parking fines accumulated by this individual remain unpaid whilst law abdiding, tax paying members of the community are fleeced by predatory parking attendants and a local council that treat Chiswick as a cash cow. A disabled neighbour with cancer has had her car in a disabled parking bay vandalised so many times that she's had to have the vehicle removed to prevent any further damage even though it removes her lifeline to her children.

New Cross Gate
Where to begin? Personally was attacked in my home by a stranger who kicked down the front door. I ended up with a broken nose, fractured cheek bone, broken ribs, lost three teeth and with severe bruising. He had been at a secure mental health unit, was let out, stopped taking his medication and flipped. A year later, - just before Christmas - we were burgled. We had window grills on the ground floor windows - which were used as a ladder to the first floor! We now have a very large dog. We ride motorbikes, which have been tampered with several times. Tax discs nicked so often, we display photocopies and carry the originals with us. Not far from the Old Kent Road - noted for drive by shootings and stabbings, there was a gang rape in the next street, a dope factory in the same road, there's mini-motos at all times of the day, noisy inconsiderate neighbours, drug dealing in shady and ill-lit corners (including just by a high level CCTV station), street drinkers being abusive, people with no control over their dogs which aren't on a lead (there's many a Staffie and Rottie round here), road rage near the Chinese restaurant because of parking on double yellow lines, emergency service sirens 24-7 - they get stuck in the New Cross one way system and the sirens just keep on going, the police helicopter pops by several times a week - at all hours of the day and a major accident blackspot less than half a mile away gives us the chance to see the flying ambulance in action. 11 years ago, when I first moved here, it was a quiet backwater full of little old ladies. As they die off, new younger families move in and the demography changes. We also got a shed load of dosh from the government in the guise of a New Deal for Communities, which refurbished a local park that has become a magnet for groups of youths who are intimidating, lads showing off their dogs and our local 'street drinkers'. Loads of CCTV - but it doesn't make me feel 'safe'. Haven't seen the community support police on their rounds for several months. Is this a no-go area? I think so. We want out - of London at least, the UK at best. So we're starting to look for somewhere else. Any suggestions?

I called the Wandsworth police who did absolutely nothing; when the yobs in our neighbourhood started attacking people right outside our front door. They informed us that if the yobs weren't attacking us,or performing any - what they considered illegal acts - then we shouldn't bother them...??? What a waste of our time....

I have lived opposite clapham Common for 5 years and am very pleasantly surprised by the lack of problems. There are a large number of young people who come into Clapham on a Friday and Saturday night and whilst when they fall out of the pubs and clubs, they are obviously worse for wear, i have never witnessed any violence or serious trouble, or felt intimidated walking home along the high street (and i am a single female). Likewise, with the number of large events on the Common, they are generally well organised and cleared up quickly and efficiently afterwards. Whilst, as with any area of London, Clapham has it's share of petty crime (and I have been victim to it too!), i have never found it to interfer with my enjoyment of the place. I would be very surprised if anybody, anywhere, with any sense left their door open ¿ burglaries can happen anywhere and if your door is unlocked then your insurance policy would be void!

I lived in London until about 2 years ago. During the time I lived there (5 years) the garage was burgled twice, the flat once, a brick was thrown through our ground floor front window having it been tried to be forced, and finally my ex gf was mugged and another time sexually assaulted in a minicab (stupid to take one but she needed to get home) We lived in Putney and Chiswick so reasonably nice areas but having said that no part is good. I now live in the sticks and it is grea

Over the period of 12 months my car was broken into no less than five times. The first time the CD player went, the second time my hands free kit. I reported both of these to the police who showed up and simply told me there wasn't anything they could really do about. I haven't bothered replacing my stereo, just left the wires hanging out of the dashboard and I make a point of leaving the glove box open now to show there's nothing worth having. This however didn't stop the car being broken into. The only thing that changed was that I gave up reporting it to the police as they proved to be so utterly ineffectual. I have since moved to Stockwell and count myself lucky to have only had my car broken into once in the last two years. Now that's a statistic to be proud of....

I live in supposedly respectable, safe Chiswick in West London. Inspite of official statistics to the contrary, on a personal level, crime has risen dramatically in recent years in my street and surrounding areas. We were burgled in November 2004, 3 weeks after the aggravated burglary where a teacher was stabbed to death in his home a few streets from where I live which was covered in the press. We thought we had good security but rather embarrassingly, the thiefs got in through our front door and walked out with the contents of our home using our own bags through the front door again - a neighbour noticed but thought they must be friends because they were so shameless in their actions. There were a spate of further burglaries in our street. Cars are regularly smashed and this summer, my husband's car was broken in to, and my car was stolen from outside our home. This with the increasing incidence of yellow boards from the police going up in neighbouring streets reporting! violent muggings, with the use of weapons- has added to my sense that this is too is an unsafe place to live. The police say they are extremely stretched in our area because it isn't deemed to be a dangerous area. They said to me that we could benefit from more CCTV cameras like surrounding Brentford or Hounslow, but again because this is not considered to be a particularly susceptible area there aren't enough. This is a vicious circle, because the less police,or cameras around the more criminals think they can get away with it. I could count on my hand the number of times I have seen police walking the streets in Chiswick- one of the few times was after the 7/7 bombings and even then they were community officers. The council seems to be rather more diligent at administering parking fines or towing our cars away from outside our front door for questionable infractions of their parking legislation, than helping keep an eye on the safety of our streets.

In Blackheath it's fine during the week, a lovely little village with community feel. Starting from Thursday night, all sorts of scum crawl up the hill from Lewisham and spoil the place. People park cars in residents' parking spaces (which are clearly marked) so they can go to the pubs and restaurants and in the evening there is a large Police van parked outside the Irish pub to clear up the bloody fights. I wish they'd all stay in Lewisham and Charlton.

Sutton, South London
I am absolutely sick of living in South London. The buses are vandalised,people put their dirty feet on the seats, old people are not longer offered a seat when there are children sitting down. Many yobs live in Sutton if you ask them nicely not to do something the usually response by swearing or worse - assualt. I feel very depressed and worry constantly about my son growning up here. When I visit rather well to do areas, you do see a difference. Muggers and theives come in from outside but dont live in the area threatning the elderely. I ,like many, want to leave this countryand go and live in a more civilized society and end my days in peace. The social fabric of the UK has changed and respect has dissappeared.

I am one of the rarefied few who live in central Soho ¿ one of London¿s most. Soho is home to a huge amount of human traffic placed on it every day and night, the combination of alcohol and large numbers leads to my area having one of the highest crime rates in London. The Police are a presence outside many of the clubs on the main streets every evening, however many areas of Soho are very poorly lit at night, and are a refuge for the many of the nights undesirables, thus often resulting crimes such as muggings etc which apparently mostly go unreported. The council is also not terribly geared towards inhabitants to this area - litter and the remnants of the night¿s excesses are never cleared up very efficiently, coupled with poor lighting, horrific road surfaces and pavements etc¿ This said, living in this area is tremendous fun, and I would recommend it to anyone¿well anyone who doesn¿t mind a bit of noise or who¿s out a lot¿

I have lived in Camden Town for 8 months having moved from Bournemouth. Overall I am happy living here, and I don't want to be too negative about it as I could do a lot worse for such a central location. My main gripe with Camden is the area directly outside the tube station, where on a typical evening you are routinely hassled by illegal minicab drivers, drug dealers, beggars and con artists. This doesn't bother me much anymore as I just put my headphones in and walk through it all ignoring everyone, but what does make my blood boil is seeing men openly and obviously dealing drugs and there are police officers literally a few yards up the road. The police know exactly what is going on around here, why don't they set up a bigger presence around the station to break it up? I am lucky to live in a more up-scale neighbourhood away from the tube station, where I never see any trouble and never feel threatened. However it's sad to see how the area deteriorates as you walk towards the trouble zone, with chip papers, beer cans and other junk left by drinkers scattered on the pavement. Also the amount of blackened chewing gum on the street is quite staggering! I am shortly due to move to Clapham, and with it I will take my most lasting memory of Camden which happened on the first day of moving here when as I was waiting to cross the road a man drinking from a beer can came to ask me the time, and then as I was talking to him started to relieve himself over the pavement, splashing urine on my shoes!

I'm really getting fed up of this Daily Mail style fear-mongering. Walthamstow is an area of high-deprivation, but it's also, frankly, a nice place to live. Like anywhere, I'd be careful where I go after dark, but there isn't anywhere I *wouldn't* go. I've had parcels left outside my house for days at a time which haven't been vandalised or stolen. I've left my front door open overnight by mistake and the only intruder has been a mouse or two. When I did catch some children climbing the wall into my garden, I talked to them. They were just playing. They apologised. And the streets are actually getting cleaner, and there are more buses. Once, when out running, I was stopped by a large group of young men. I though they were going to mug me. They wanted to ask me whether (a) Turkey was in the EU and (b) whether they were in the next group of countries slated for accession. But if you want everyone to be scared to go outdoors, then fine.

I've lived in Balham for 7 years now, and feel perfectly safe walking around day or night. From personal experience the most likely downsides are finding litter all oevr the place and in your front garden, and bouts of road rage when two cars have a Mexican standoff in the street over who has the right of way (almost every Saturday afternoon outside Waitrose without fail). However you're most likely to find a traffic warden or sometimes pretend police (community support) officers on the streets. It's quite rare to see a proper police officer on foot.

I live in Brixton and have done for 20years. The situation is worse than I have ever known it. I'm not sure where the figures are coming from about the UK being safer, it's not my personal experience. I live on a beautiful leafy avenue, wich by night becomes a sinister place. My bedroom faces the street and I can't count how many times I have heard screams from women being mugged, at times, men being attacked. We live in a state of seige, all told. I have a teenage daughter who I don't allow to walk down our avenue after dark because the houses are set back from the road, which makes it a prime target. Just a few hundred yards from our house two people were shot in broad daylight - as was covered in national news. There is nothing unusual in this - yellow incident boards are appearing all the time. There are prostitutes and kerb crawlers working the avenue. My son, on his way b! ack from school has already been mugged for his dinner money, been threatened for his bike. Friends children have had their bikes, scooters, whatever stolen. If a gang of boys sees something they want, they cover their faces and take it. Crime is the single most blighting aspect of living where I live. Which is a shame because there is a community of people here trying to live their lives. There are many who feel untouchable and experience bears this out - they know they can do anything and they won't get caught. I'm angry that no one in authority seems to be telling it like it is. What kind of freedom is there in a society where many have to follow what amounts to a curfew - especially women? My kid can't even cycle to the park, because someone will take his bike if I'm not with him.

I was mugged outside my door in July and my collar bone was broken while I was trying to hold onto my bag. My bag and wallet were returned but no finger prints were discovered. Now I am nervous every time I go home especially now that it is getting dark early. The police were very good at the incident and afterwards but at the end of the day my collar bone was broken and he only got £2 in cash and my phone!

Croydon, South London
Where to start? Croydon is the largest london borough and well over populated. I live in South croydon which used to be a respected and nice area and on the whole is still a pretty good area however thats not all of croydon of course. 3 years ago a guy was shot in the head at the end of our road, bungled drugs deal apparently. Pub knife attacks are not uncommon in central Croydon but lower here. Car crime is relatively low but I have had my car tampered with twice in 3 years. The police helicopter is a frequent visitor to the area and we often have the searchlight in our rear garden, makes you all warm inside that does! We live on a one way street and we often have cars deliberately drive the wrong way to avoid traffic or sometimes even the police, last time that happened I almost had a head on. police response was apathetic to say the least. I found the guy before they did. Generally the whole country seams to be going down the tubes. Mutual respect and manners are a thing of the past to most of these people. If you work hard and have money your a target. The newsagents just 5 doors from my own office was robbed by 5 armed men last night, 5 men to take a newsagents! They left with £300 and a few packets of fags, whats the point? £50 each and a "free" smoke? You usually get 15 years inside for armed robbery, that worth 50 quid?

Here in east hackney we have problems with juveniles and young teenagers harassing my disabled daughter who has a mental age of around 8yrs although she is 30yrs old. they either insult her, call her names or are asking for money or cigarettes. The trouble is that, although both the local council and the police know who is responsible, nothing is done to stop them and it is getting very close to the point where the only answer seems to be direct action, but that would mean I would be in the wrong and end up in prison. How can the authorities that are supposed to protect the innocent be so short-sighted as to allow this situation to reach this point?

I have left the country for a number of years to see whether the country can heal its wounds from many years of neglect. Myself and my girlfriend were living on Twickenham Green when Am

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