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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 01:10 GMT 02:10 UK
Transforming Broadwater Farm
By Chirag Trivedi
BBC News

Picture a place in modern Britain where the latest crime statistics show that the only burglary was quickly followed by the arrest of the culprit and the recovery of the stolen goods.

Lemar opens the Children's Centre
Local lad Lemar was proud to open the estate's new children's centre

A place where there were absolutely no robberies or assaults to blight the streets over the same three-month period.

A place where a police unit brought in to build up relations with the local community has left the area with such a low crime rate that bosses can no longer justify its existence.

But this place is no sleepy Heartbeat-style backwater. This is the Broadwater Farm Estate 2005.

The Tottenham estate will be forever associated with the rioting exactly 20 years ago which resulted in the murder of Pc Keith Blakelock.

Those riots were sparked when the community was angered by the death of resident Cynthia Jarrett who died of heart failure after police officers burst into her home during a police raid.

Lessons to be learned

So it will surprise many people that the estate now has almost no crime, is a community of racial harmony and has a worldwide reputation for progressive social, cultural and policing initiatives.

A lot of the transformation has been overseen in the last 11 years by the north London estate's manager, Paul Dennehy.

About 33m was spent on redesigning the estate's layout, giving each block a unique identity.

Paul Dennehy at the Broadwater Farm Estate
Paul Dennehy has overseen the 33m investment into the estate

Intimidating walkways were demolished and the modern estate boasts concierge lobbies, landscaped gardens, a health centre and an enterprise centre.

This week also saw the launch of a new children's centre - opened by Tottenham-born pop star Lemar - which will provide nursery places and child care for many parents keen to go on to further education and employment.

Mr Dennehy described the Tottenham estate, which was completed in 1970 and today houses 3,800 people of 39 different nationalities, as a "laboratory of social policy", which has been visited by housing and community experts from a variety of countries.

He said: "We've had people come from all over the world. Sometimes they look at the structural redesign; sometimes they come to look at a community this diverse and to see what solutions we've found.

"Even an adviser to Bill Clinton wanted to talk to us about the integration of black youths.

Scene from the Broadwater Farm Estate riots in 1985
875 burglaries or attempted burglaries
50 muggings
50 assaults
Population 3,500
White 49%
West Indian/African 42%
Indian subcontinent 3%

"There's a whole range of lessons to be learned from Broadwater Farm."

He first worked on the estate on a temporary basis the day after the riots as Haringey Council was looking for senior housing officers.

"It was a case of a community clearly in distress," he recalls.

"There was just a huge amount of people wanting to move, just wanting to get out."

When he took over as manager he said there had been a lot of work done already by the council and police.

The Metropolitan Police had introduced the Broadwater Farm Unit, consisting of a sergeant and eight constables, which built up relations with the community that had become distrustful of policing policies.

0 robberies
1 house burglary
Population 3,800
White 30%
West African 27%
Afro-Caribbean 24%
Turkish Kurds 12%
Somali and Congolese 7%

Conversely, the unit was so successful it had to be closed down as the Met could not justify keeping it open in an area with such a low level of crime.

In the first three months of this year, there were no robberies or serious assaults on 'The Farm' and just one burglary - in which the stolen items were recovered and the culprit arrested.

Police-community relations are now so good that after a drugs raid on a flat, officers were applauded by residents.

And Winston Silcott, one of the men convicted and then cleared of the murder of PC Blakelock, now helps the police run the estate's youth centre.

Not only does the estate look and feel a lot different; the ethnic mix of the predominately white working class and Afro-Caribbean population has changed with the arrival of Turkish Kurds, Ghanaians and Somalis.

Various festivals and events are organised to help them integrate but Mr Dennehy said sport has played a major role.

Professional footballers

Clasford Stirling, youth leader and ever-enthusiastic manger of the estate's own football team Broadwater Farm FC, has worked for the last 25 years to integrate the diverse community and help get youngsters off the street.

Mr Stirling - who had his nose broken by the police as he tried to calm the rioters in 1985 - has seen this hard work pay off with 25 professional players - including his own son Jude - coming from the estate.

He said: "We are trying to change things on the estate where the kids see the outside.

"We try to bring them in at an early age to try and discipline them, maybe give them a football career. If not, the training and discipline alone keeps them off the street."

Mary Kemp
Mary Kemp moved into the estate days after it opened

The changes have all been witnessed and embraced by one of Broadwater Farm's oldest residents, 82-year-old Mary Kemp, who moved in just after the estate opened in 1970.

"It's great living here," she said. "I am pure English but it's great to have these people from all over the world coming over here.

"They bring is so much colour, variety. We can learn so much from them."

As I tour the estate, one poignant image reflects the many changes that have taken place over the past two decades.

A huge mural painted on the side of the council block features Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Bob Marley and John Lennon - four apostles of peace looking down on the much-changed Broadwater Farm.

Farming talent
04 Oct 05 |  Football
Winston Silcott: Not free yet
27 Feb 04 |  Magazine
New leads in Blakelock murder
03 Dec 03 |  London
Silcott vows to clear name
21 Oct 03 |  London


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