Stratford Shopping Centre has been closed overnight since Covid, prior to which up to 89 homeless people used it to shelter.
An east London shopping centre may be permanently closed overnight after recording significant reductions in antisocial behaviour-related incidents since the temporary measure was introduced.
Newham Council is looking to make permanent a traffic management order, under which Stratford Shopping Centre is closed to members of the public between 9pm and 5am.
The shopping centre, which opened in 1974, acts as a public highway, through which people travel to get from one part of Stratford to another.
As of 2019, the shopping centre was being used as a place of shelter by up to 89 homeless people, with many vulnerable from poverty, poor mental health or drug and alcohol-related issues.
The Met Police said there had been an increase in antisocial behaviour, serious violence, open drug use and intimidation, as well as urination and defecation leading up to this period.
During Covid, Stratford Shopping Centre was closed overnight as part of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
Stratford Shopping Centre. Credit: Google.
The shopping centre has continued to stay closed through the extension of temporary closure orders, under Section 80 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, and currently has a Experimental Traffic Management Order. However, this is due to end on September 6.
Council officers are now looking to keep the overnight closure through a permanent traffic management order, under Section 6 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
They wrote in a cabinet report: “The [current closure order] has proven effective in significantly reducing the public health risk and antisocial behaviour whilst providing for the safe accommodation of most the rough sleepers.
“It has also presented adult social care [services] with the unique opportunity to engage positively with a significant number of rough sleepers who previously were reluctant to do so.”
They added: “The historical night-time access to the mall had resulted in it becoming one of the highest single hotspots in the country attracting rough sleeping from outside of Newham.
“This encouraged a significant volunteer response such as providing food which in turn attracted further rough sleepers to the mall and surrounding area.”
Cllr James Asser and Cllr Neil Wilson, who are leading the plans, said in a cabinet report: “The route through the centre is designated as public highway, which makes it an unusual shopping centre and led to some of the problems of the past.
“Since the closure of the centre overnight there has been a significant improvement in antisocial behaviour issues and the council has been able to help and support over 1,000 homeless people.”
The plans will be discussed at a cabinet meeting next Thursday (July 20).