Barking Riverside, Scrattons Farm and Thames View

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We need more security

Barking Riverside Security Co-Op

In May, I popped to our local Co-op to buy some hummus to go with our dinner. When I got to the self-checkout, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man behind the till with a screwdriver. At first, I thought it must be an employee trying to fix something, but when I looked again, it was actually someone trying to get into the till. I looked around as I couldn’t quite believe my eyes, but the shop workers were behind me also watching him. Once the man realised he couldn’t get into the till, he proceeded to take out a bag for life and cleared the alcohol shelves of all he could fit in it and walked out. I paid for my hummus and walked home as fast as I could.

In the end the guy got caught; we’re lucky to have a neighbour who is a police officer and single-handedly chased down and arrested him. Though it wasn’t funny, it was a story I could share with friends that we half laughed about; ‘who sees this happen?’, ‘how brazen was the guy?’, ‘why did no one do anything?’ and ‘did you need hummus that bad?!’ Yet, half worried about, bearing in mind how isolated our area is.

Fast forward three months and it is no longer funny. People target the Co-op on an almost daily basis, knowing there is no security and therefore no real repercussions. It’s gotten to a point where we don’t take our daughter when going to Co-op, just in case. At the same time, whenever there’s been a shoplifter the store closes or has nothing on their shelves until they restock, so it’s an inconvenience on multiple levels.

Being co-chair of the Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) Ward Panel, this was something I flagged, to see what can be done. National papers reported on the security issues with Co-ops throughout the country, focusing on the angle of crime increasing and police needing to do more. However, as a resident who is actually affected by the situation, I feel there is another angle that needs to be looked at. Co-op is one of the only main stores nearby that don’t have security and apparently that’s their policy; Tesco and Sainsbury’s all over London do.

Until recently, our SNT across Riverside and Thames View wards, weren’t up to full numbers, considering the large area they had to cover, expecting more from them was a stretch. I believe a multiple pronged approach is needed alongside police patrols and arrests: if Co-op and/or Barking Riverside Limited (BRL), the estate developer, were able to pay for security for the long term there would be a real deterrent rather than heavily relying on the cure. The cost-of-living crisis is real and the deprivation stats for our borough were already one of the lowest in London and in some cases the UK, so the situation will only get worse as people struggle to make ends meet. At the same time, where people know Co-op is an easy target, and that our estate is secluded, opportunists also make it a frequent target. At what point do the other stakeholders in the area get involved? For Co-op, we know they only fork out for a week or two of security when someone manages to get into the tills, as the SNT disclosed at a Met Police meeting in August. As for BRL, myself and Lucy Lee as the co-chairs of the Ward Panel, have met with Sarah McCready (Head of Placemaking and Communications) recently who confirmed BRL are “considering a new/comprehensive security strategy for the estate and want to engage residents via the CIC and the Safer Neighbourhood Leads in this process” and are “already engaging with Co-op management, the CIC and the police on the issues raised”.


By Zahra Awani, local resident and REB member
Autumn 2023 Issue

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