London is on show this summer, like it has never been before, and The Capital wants the world to see it at its very best.
On the eve of Euro 96 an operation was launched to bring all known football related offenders before the court and place orders prohibiting them from going within a certain distance of the designated areas. England was on display.
Last Friday news broke that the police had arrested 18 known drug dealers in a pre ? Olympic blitz. There is no pretence that the purpose of this operation was to ensure that these individuals were either in custody or prohibited from entering certain areas as part of " a wider sustained effort to "clean Up " the west end of London prior to the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.
The Evening Standards? report, the source of which we presume is the Met?s News desk stated that the operation came as a result of 3 months surveillance by a team of 800 officers as part of a major crackdown on crime before the Olympics. The Deputy Met Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh described the suspects as "serious drug dealers who come to the West end to sell drugs?
Sledgehammer to crack a crack dealer?
Cut to Westminster Magistrates Court on Saturday 19th May, 18 defendants appeared before the court facing various drug offences. One man pleaded guilty to offering to supply a Class A drug, his offence was that he supplied a plain clothed police officer with a wrapped item that transpired to be a small stone, the offence occurred on 8th March and the operation had been running from 29th February until the arrest dates .
In a previous era this offence was charged as "going equipped to cheat?. This defendant is not a professional drug dealer as described by the Deputy Commissioner, he was a hopelessly addicted drug user, staying in a hostel and slowly seeking help for a long term addiction. At the time of his arrest, he was engaging in services to address this and staying on a semi permanent basis in a hostel just outside the West End. Upon pleading guilty , the prosecution sought his detention in custody - had they arrested him in March when he committed the offence , his release from custody would be sooner, and by delaying his arrest , the authorities ensure that he is charged and in custody whilst the guests are visiting.
As an extra safety net, and in the event of him being at liberty right up to the end of September, the authorities propose making him subject to an ASBO. The proposed ASBO includes far reaching requirements prohibiting him from entering an area of London from King?s Cross to Waterloo, including the road where is Hostel accommodation is; Associating with as many as 28 other named individuals, being in possession of the following items (whether in public or in own home), Cigarette paper (unless it is covering a factory manufactured cigarette); scales ; Clingfilm or foil unless at least 100mm x 100 mm.
In order to grant an ASBO, the court has to be satisfied that the person has acted in an anti social manner that has caused or is likely to cause harassment alarm or distress and that it is necessary to protect people in England and Wales from further anti social acts by that person.
This individual does not approach members of the public; he is neither intimidating nor does he lurks on quiet side streets. There cannot be envisaged any situation during the Olympics where the streets of London and in particular the central zones will be empty and
HE SOLD A STONE TO A PLAIN CLOTHES OFFICER. Many of those who have raised funds and flown in from around the globe to attend the Olympics will come from towns and cities which also accommodate the poor, the mentally ill, and the addicted; is it really necessary to sweep them to another part of London or England during this period to prevent their presence from causing harassment, alarm or distress to our guests. Are the guests going to complain, mark the accommodation 3/10 on the feedback form or leave early if there is a scattered representative of London?s disenfranchised on the streets?
The penalty for breaching such an order is imprisonment, so if the children were to come downstairs whilst the guests were here (to use the analogy at the top) , they face arrest and immediate imprisonment; Any of the prohibitions set out in such a wide ranging ASBO , even possession of a packet of cigarette papers , if breached anywhere in the UK could result in the same punishment.
The Mayor for London, UK Tourist Board, the Olympic committee and their sponsors prefer tourists to see the traditional image of London, all Buckingham Palace, London Eye and Big Ben, but does that not include The Artful Dodger, Fagin and dare I say Jack the Ripper; Even Sherlock Holmes never had his pipe confiscated on his way back from his Opium dealers
There was much coverage some weeks ago of the displacement of Newham Residents to Stoke and other areas outside London, if that was the dump truck to remove swathes of the population from the Olympic idyll , then operation Trafalgar is the stiff broom sweeping up the rubbish .
Jonathan Black is the Training Officer of the LCCSA and a partner at a leading criminal law firm