Exiting Norwood junction station, on the first left and at the end of the street, lies South Norwood Recreation Ground. The ‘dangerous’ park has become a ‘nightmare’ for local residents and some say they no longer ‘feel safe leaving the house at night’.
MyLondon spoke to residents of Cargreen Road, which links the park to Norwood Junction Station, who have seen their fair share of police activity. In the past six years there have been two murders, multiple stabbings and according to residents “an uncountable amount of drug related activity” within the fences of the recreation ground and surrounding roads/parks.
Cargreen Road and Lawrence Road are two streets which residents have described as being ‘surrounded by violence’. On one side is the recreation ground and on the other side is Norwood High Street, Station Rd, and Oliver Grove. Stabbings, an acid attack, and knife fights ‘in the middle of the day’ have made this small subsection of South Norwood an ‘undesirable place to live’.
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Residents told MyLondon they want more investment in the area and for their kids to try to make South Norwood ‘safer’. Emmanuel, 47, who lives in Cargreen Road, said: “It’s a shame with all this violence and stuff that the community is worried for their children. You see it is young people dying from this violence, teenagers and young adults, not us.
“We are scared to go out because it creates an intimidating atmosphere. Why would you want to go somewhere where someone has been killed? In South Norwood Park [recreation ground] a man was found dead just a few weeks ago. It is scary.”
The latest incident, in a park just a few hundred metres away from Cargreen Road, was the death of Jamie Gibley, who was found dead on March 1 in Cantley Gardens, near to South Norwood Recreation Ground. A murder investigation was launched by police after they found Jamie in the park. On January 23, 2016, David Darko, 21, was knifed inside South Norwood Recreation Ground near his home, in a row during a botched drug deal.
The two deaths are among multiple reasons that residents living in South Norwood live in fear. Residents told MyLondon ‘drug deals, mass brawls and youth violence’ are more reasons that residents of Cargreen Road and their neighbours don’t feel safe.
One woman, a receptionist, living in Lawrence Road, who did not want to be named, said: “We, me and the family, are scared to go out at night. I have a young son and it’s worrying because those are the people caught up in this. I know that people will say you’re overreacting but it takes one time and your whole world changes.
“As a community we need more investment in youth clubs, stuff for people to do and the way we’re living. The kids only turn to violence and drugs when they’re poor. So give them jobs or at least sports clubs/role models to look up to. My son is three, I hope I bring him up to know that sort of life is not right”.
Violence on Croydon’s streets is one of the highest in the capital. In 2021, Croydon had the third highest rate of violent crime in the capital and the receptionist said that Croydon, specifically South Norwood, has gained a reputation of being ‘rough’. Multiple residents agreed that more funding is needed to help children have stuff to do and not be distracted by crime.
Another resident from Cargreen Road, 31, a builder, who also asked not to be named said: “I’ve grown up here all my life but luckily now I’ve passed that point that it worries me. I have a job and responsibilities to look after my family. A lot of kids look at this life like it’s a game.
“When people are being stabbed it ruins their life, the victim and also loads of other people’s lives, at least for a while. It makes people in the community scared and young people think they have to carry to protect themselves. It’s a cycle that no one really knows how to stop. I don’t.”
A Croydon Council spokesperson said: “The majority of Croydon residents use our parks considerately, but our parks officers work to keep them clean, safe and provide a reassuring presence.
“Officers work with the police and always refer serious matters to them, as well as organising joint patrols when necessary. Residents are also encouraged to report instances of antisocial or criminal behaviour.”
The Metropolitan Police were contacted but did not respond in time for publication.
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