A push for more CCTV at a Penge park where a man was shot dead earlier this month has been ruled out, despite repeated crimes in the area leading to it allegedly being termed “Murder Park” by locals.
It comes as police investigations continue into the death of Dean Edwards, who is believed to have died after being shot in the back of the head as he walked home from the pub through Betts Park in the early hours of July 12.
That crime – as well as an alleged sexual assault at another park in Penge the same weekend – led to councillors questioning what measures were being taken to address the issues at the local authority’s July meeting.
Those appealing for action included ward member for Penge and Cator Kevin Brooks (Labour), who revealed residents living in the area had begun calling it “Murder Park” due to the number of after-dark incidents there in recent years.
“(It’s) known by people who live near Betts Park as ‘Murder Park’, just take that in…We’ve got to a place in Bromley where a park is known as Murder Park,” he told the virtual full meeting.
His fellow ward member, Cllr Kathy Bance, said the latest death was the sixth murder in Penge and Anerley in recent years.
“There’s nowhere in Bromley with six murders. Five of them are unsolved – our police are pleading for more CCTV to be able to trace the perpetrators of these crimes,” she said.
Labour also referred to the 2017 death of 17-year-old boy Michael Jonas, who was stabbed to death in the park after being chased down by a gang of men.
His murder remains unsolved after charges against six people arrested on suspension of murder were dropped due to a lack of evidence, with Labour citing the absence of adequate CCTV as a key issue in securing a conviction.
Responding to the questions about more CCTV or lighting in the park was the authority’s executive member for public protection and enforcement, Kate Lymer.
“I was deeply saddened to hear of the horrific murder of Dean Edwards and an alleged serious sexual assault at two different parks in Penge the weekend before last,” Cllr Lymer told the meeting.
She went on to say her position remained “unchanged” regarding increasing lighting and CCTV in the borough’s parks.
“The main pathways are lit, and we do not want to encourage further use (of the park) after dark,” she said.
She added it was “impossible to cover a whole park in cameras, (which) can be easily avoided by those who wish to”.
Cllr Lymer, who also chairs the Safer Bromley Partnership with local emergency services, said she had never had requests from Bromley Police leadership for more CCTV in the area.
Her point was disputed by Labour, with party leader Angela Wilkins stating she had “verbal and written evidence” that police wanted more CCTV.
“All heads of Bromley police have not supported the cause of CCTV or lighting in parks – it’s a topic I discuss with them on a regular basis,” Cllr Lymer responded to the claims.
Cllr Lymer also encouraged councillors to tell their residents “to try not go into parks after dark”, but added that the authority could potentially look at repositioning existing cameras in the area rather than adding new ones.
“Many of these terrible incidents have happened at night,” she said, adding that councillors should “really urge” residents not to go to parks after dark.
“Regarding location of cameras, we have some near the exits which we’re happy to review or move…so just let me know and we can look into it,” she said.
However, her fellow Tory Councillor Michael Ticker said previous correspondence with senior police had revealed ” they’d like (CCTV) in every public place”.
“But if you ask about who would they like to pay for more (cameras) and pay for monitoring they backtrack very quickly indeed…they want to do it if council tax payers pay for it,” he said.
It led to a quick spat involving the Tory central Government and Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
“Maybe this council should be lobbying for more funding because it’s this Government which has cut funding for police in London?” Labour’s Vanessa Allen prompted.
Cllr Lymer responded, saying “they’d be better pressed contacting their London Mayor”.
Debate was finished by council leader Colin Smith, who accused Bromley Labour of copying a similar question asked by their Bexley counterparts at a meeting last week.
“This is another stock Labour question, they asked it at Bexley last week,” Cllr Smith said.
“They’re trying to push the Mayor’s failure onto the Government and it’s self evidently the mayor’s failure.”
Police have appealed to anyone with information regarding the Mr Edwards’ death to contact 0208 721 4868, or via 101 quoting CAD 1402/12JUL.