[from Hackney Gazette]

15 August 2008

An investigation is underway after a number of security breaches at a block of flats for elderly people.

Unwanted visitors are preying on a sheltered housing scheme at Barkway Court in Queen’s Drive, Finsbury Park.

The intruders have befriended vulnerable residents to gain access to warmth and shelter at night.

One relative has told the Gazette she spotted five young people spending the night in an elderly man’s flat.

Circle 33, the housing association which runs the modern block, has launched an immediate investigation.

Officers from Hackney Police are meeting housing chiefs to highlight the potential security risks.

Campaigner Alan Hindley has fought for greater security for elderly people in sheltered housing.

He said: “This is becoming a problem in a lot of these properties and I am deeply concerned.

“Elderly people who are living in single buildings are prime targets and can be easily fooled.

“Once people realise there is a lack of security they get more confident and come back and back.”

Conservative ward councillor Maureen Middleton added: “I think it is outrageous that people are being treated in this way when they need some help and support.

“It is a terrible shame that if you are getting old, you don’t want to be getting old in Hackney.”

On-site support for residents at Barkway Court is provided from 9am to 5pm during the week by Circle 33’s partner, EPIC Trust.

However, during the evenings and at weekends, residents only have access to an emergency alarm.

A Circle 33 spokeswoman said: “We are investigating this matter fully in order to establish some solutions, including reviewing the existing security measures in place.

“We are committed to continuing to work with residents, the police and our partner support providers in preventing access to unwanted visitors at this scheme.”

One concerned relative, who asked not to be named, said: “These people have been preying on vulnerable people for months and I think it’s disgusting.


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