Bexley’s most violent street undermining borough’s reputation for safety

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

A high street in Bexley has been branded as the “violence hotspot” of the borough, with locals claiming people have been “held at knifepoint”.

Broadway high street sits in Bexleyheath and connects the town centre with areas such as Welling and Falconwood. The road has become known for its night time economy, with Met Police officers stating at a licensing meeting for Bexley council on May 15, that they would struggle to staff the Broadway area if nightclubs on the street were allowed to stay open later.

Police Sergeant Steven Watson said at the meeting: “Crime analysis has shown that the Broadway area is the violence hotspot for Bexley borough, and those offences correspond with the peak hours of the late night licensed premises of that area.”

Shane Connor, 40, lives just off Broadway. He said he can often hear teenagers running down his road late at night after coming off the high street. He said: “It’s always a bit rowdy. Sometimes even at 2am I have to go and tell them to be quiet because I’ve got a baby sleeping.”

Mr Connor said he feels the nightclubs on the high street are open too late, as the area is largely residential. He added that while he grew up in Bexleyheath and never feels threatened on the road, crime is not unusual.

He said: “My neighbour got his bike stolen from the front of his house at knifepoint. It was chained up and he came out to stop them. They pulled it out and stole it anyway.”

Crime data from the Met Police shows there were 17 violent or sexual offences committed in the Broadway area of the Bexleyheath ward in December 2023. Police Sergeant David Catlow said at the meeting on May 15 that police regularly stop up to seven fights a night on Broadway high street.

Celia Spencer, 70, said she often comes to Broadway to shop and had noticed the high street felt less safe in the past five years. She said she was “frightened” by the amount of crime in the area and felt a greater police presence may be necessary.

Shane Connor who said his neighbour was held at knifepoint when having his bike stolen (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

Ms Spencer said: “I’m quite shocked because I suppose as you get older you keep yourself to yourself. I’ve got grandchildren. My grandson is 20 and he would not come up here.”

A spokesman for Bexleyheath Police Station said: “In comparative terms, Bexley is one of the safest boroughs in London. But each borough has hotspots for crime and anti-social behaviour and the Broadway in Bexleyheath is recognised as a hotspot in Bexley.

“We recognise there is still work to do and so the police are increasing the number of officers assigned to the town centre team, and carrying out a number of proactive operations to help reduce crime.”

A Bexley council spokesman confirmed that the authority was working alongside the Met Police and local businesses to address crime in the area, adding that Bexley has remained one of London’s top five safest boroughs for over a decade.

The spokesman said: “The council is one of the authorities that makes up the Bexley Community Safety Partnership (BCSP). Other authorities include the MPS, Probation, London Fire Brigade and Health services, all working together to reduce crime in the borough.”

Pictured top: Celia Spencer, who she had noticed the high street felt less safe in the past five years (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

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