Merton Police: There are 'no gangs' in Mitcham
Merton’s top policeman has said there are no gangs in Mitcham and warned residents against wrongly labelling youths as criminals – adding “this isn’t Lambeth, Croydon or Southwark*”.
Responding to an allegation, made at a public meeting, about “a gang in Mitcham” which was “smashing up McDonalds”, detective chief superintendent Darren Williams said he was unaware of any gangs in Mitcham.
During a Face the People event at Vestry Hall, Mitcham, on July 5, a resident said: “The gangs are getting bigger and bigger. The safer neighbourhood team is never there to assist.
“You can see them – there are a lot of them and they cause trouble. They throw chairs around.”
D Chief Supt Williams, the borough commander, responded: “It is very easy to label groups of young people, along racial lines, as ‘gangs’.
“You say they are smashing up McDonalds, but I know the manager there well. But I dislike people saying there are gangs in Mitcham because there is a particular issue.
“You might get groups of kids congregating but this isn’t Lambeth, Croydon or Southwark. There are not gangs running around Mitcham.”
The meeting’s chairman, Reverend Andrew Wakefield, praised Mike Smith, the manager of the McDonalds in London Road, Mitcham, who himself has chaired police meetings in Figges’ Marsh Ward.
Mr Wakefield said: “Out of all the fast food outlets in the borough, the one that is most likely to be working with both the police and the council is that one.
“Mike Smith chairs the neighbourhood panel for the area and it is the best one of those meetings that I have been to.”
* Correction: The original version of this story said 'Sutton' when it should have said 'Southwark' all along. We are happy to correct this and apologise for the confusion.