‘Little Algiers’ bounces back after raid by riot-gear police


[from Islington Tribune]

Islington Tribune – by ROISIN GADELRAB
Published: 11 April 2008
police in Blackstock Road
Flashback: police in Blackstock Road

‘Little Algiers’ bounces back after raid by riot-gear police

Shops determined to revive reputation as street becomes dispersal zone

FINSBURY Park’s ­“Little Algiers” will be under surveillance for the next three months as police and businesses help rebuild the reputation of an area where a rogue street trading racket sparked a massive raid two weeks ago.
A dispersal zone, introduced in Blackstock Road last week, will run until June 27, allowing police to break up groups who gather in the streets for criminal purposes.
Business owners are determined to rescue the reputation of the area and with it the trade they say has dropped since 600 police officers in riot gear descended on Blackstock Road.
The raid angered the mainly Algerian population, who saw the oper­ation as a “clampdown on Algerians”.
Borough Commander Bob Carr met commun­ity leaders last week in a bid to ease tensions.
He said: “We are committed to improving Blackstock Road for the benefit of everyone. I would like to point out we were not targeting the Algerian community as a whole but certain individuals who are spoiling the area for everyone.
“It is only by working and consulting with the Algerian community that we can make Blackstock Road a nicer and safer place for everyone.”
Mohamed Nacer, of the Arab Advice Bureau, said business owners and residents have resolved to work with police to make the area “safe, exciting and diverse”.
Businesses hope to gain funding from the London Development Agency for CCTV cameras at their shops.
He added: “We asked the police for continuous help but we don’t want any more raids. We need to send out a message to the area. We’re going to have regular meetings with the police.”
Mr Nacer is organising a petition, which he hopes businesses, residents, police and local politicians will sign, to resolve to keep Blackstock Road crime-free.
The petition concludes: “We believe this is a good place, full of character and diversity and a working example of the multi-cultural atmosphere that London is part of.”
Mr Nacer is now having talks on organising a festival celebrating the character of Blackstock Road.
Since the raid, police have seized 350 items of stolen property including 120 laptops, 110 cameras, 32 iPods, 20 sat-nav systems and 47 forged documents as well as two kilos of heroin with a street value of more than £200,000.
Last week, officers were led to a passport factory in south London, after stopping a car in Blackstock Road.
The street became the focus of the massive police operation after it emerged it was a major centre for stolen electrical goods.
Mobile phone firm T-Mobile told officers 42 per cent of all stolen SIM cards in England were later reactivated for the first time in Blackstock Road.


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