"Brockley doesn't feel safe", really?

I recently came across this post on a Plumstead blog http://plumsteadshire.blogspot.com/2007/03/its-safe-innit.html , written by an ex-Brockley resident, Pangloss.

He claims to feel safer in Plumstead than he did when he lived here and a couple of patriotic Plumsteaders have pulled out some statistics to back that up.

But as someone who used to live in that direction and whose main experiences of Plumstead have been accidentally waking up there on the last train home and having to find my way back that claim simply doesn't feel right. Whereas Plumstead feels deserted after 11pm, Brockley has more of a 24-hour lifestyle. While not everything that goes on in Brockley at 2am is especially savoury, the presence of people makes it feel more secure.

My neighbour, who's been living in the area for many years, regards me as some kind of lunatic ingenue, who drifts through Brockley life without noticing its dark underbelly, but I think her perception is out of date. Indeed, I've met a number of former residents of Brockley who've held similar views to Pangloss and while it's often the case that ex-pats are the quickest to find fault with their former homes (eg: the stream of decliniste commentary from people living in places like the Philippines that you find at the bottom of any comment article on the Telegraph website), I think the fact that their perception seems so out of kilter with my own suggests that the area has become a "safer" place in recent years. Or maybe I'm just Dr Pangloss, myself.

What's your experience been?

43 comments:

ElijahBailey said...

I find the though of Brockley being scary hilarious to be honest.

The way I see it is this. I have lived in London 23 years. Some of the most serious things to happens to me have been in what would be called relitivly safe areas, so I figure if something is going to happen it is going to happen, it is going to happen no matter where you are.

Some areas around Brockley are dodge maybe on a Friday or Saturday night but then so is everywhere else.

I would be worried about finding Brockley scary because that gives quite low threshold to the areas of London that would be acceptable!!!

Anonymous said...

You might not find it scary if you can afford to avoid certain estates and roads because you don't have to live there.
The crime figures suggest Brockley is not as bad as it has been - walking past the Brockley Barge is a lot safer than it was passing the Breakspeare's, for example. But it is still pretty rough compared to some areas.

Hugh said...

Anyone else flick through the Mercury each week (that free paper they stuff through your door)? Plumstead seems to have a higher frequency of murders than anywhere else in SE London, although I admit I haven't done a careful study.

The place is also incredibly delapidated, barring the part near Shooters Hill Road. Brockley looks like South Kensington in comparison.

If Brockley worries people, Plumstead would I think rank as nightmare territory.

I apologise for the partiality but I've cycled round Plumstead's many roads and the place is an absolute dump.

Luke said...

Judging by reports from friends that have lived in the area for decades, it seems Brockley has gone (and continues to go) through a major change over the last few years.

The reasons for it are obviously open to debate; I'm sure newcomers will have a different view to Brockley's veterans. However, if the shift is/has happened - surely that can only be a good thing and should be welcomed by all...

Kate said...

I've lived in Brockley for a year, before that I lived in Peckham for two years, and before that Chalk Farm. I've stumbled home in the early hours of the morning while not exactly sober in all those places (this is my subjective test of how safe an area feels) and Brockley definitely 'feels' to me the safest of the three.

Having said that, I never felt unsafe in any of the three places; even Peckham never worried me. Some parts of it have a bad rep but a lot of the crime is actually gang-related - if you're not involved in the gang scene, then the likelihood of running into trouble is probably approximately similar to pretty much anywhere else in London.

I'm trying to think of parts of London I've been to where I wouldn't feel comfortable walking around alone at night, and the only place I can think of is Homerton.

sibonetic said...

Brockley getting safer, Plumstead more scary, you are having a laugh, Burglary in Brockley was already higher than Plumstead and it has gone up by another 10%, whereas in Plumstead it fell by 34% last year. I wouldn't even feel safe at home in Brockley.

If I did go out all the durg addicts would really put me off with drug offences up by 41.5%. There were lower in Plumstead already and fell 16.9% and as for robbery up over 15% from a level already higher than Plumstead where if fell 11.5%.


More murders?????
14 in Lewisham over the last 2 years and only 9 in Greenwich.

If you are genuinely scared by a place being run down you are a pretty sad individual, personally I am more scared of drug addicts breaking into my house or mugging me in the street of which there seems to be rather a lot in Brockley.

Brockley Nick said...

Sibonetic, I've read your stat-obsessed posts before. I guess it just goes to show that statistics (even unsourced ones like yours) for recorded drug offences and burglaries have little to do with quality of life.

sibonetic said...

Nick,

I am sorry that you find statistics so upsetting, presumably your dislike of them stems from the fact that they are an inconvenient truth that gets in the way of a good argument. Personally, if I am commenting on a post which says that Brockley is safer than Plumstead, I like to use evidence rather than anecdote.

As to the question of the figures being unsourced, I got them from the Metropolitan Police's website.
http://www.met.police.uk/crimefigures/index.php
presumably they know a little bit more about the levels of crime in an area than you do.

As the post was not to do with "quality of life" but was suggesting that Brockley was a safe area which was getting safer, I stand by my comments that it flies in the face of the evidence, even you yourself admit that your neighbour thinks you have no idea what is going on in Brockley.

"My neighbour, who's been living in the area for many years, regards me as some kind of lunatic ingenue, who drifts through Brockley life without noticing its dark underbelly, but I think her perception is out of date"

I am afraid to say that your neighbour's perception is very much in date.

Brockley Nick said...

I can't believe I'm rising to the bait, but since you've accused me of being afraid of statistics, I'll quickly address your points.

1. Actually, the post was all about the perception of danger - which is absolutely a quality of life issue.

2. Perception is not necessarily dictated by statistics, but by environment. That's why the article was directed at Brockley residents, to better understand their perceptions, rather than a request for Plumstead residents to quote statistics. I was trying not to be rude about Plumstead, but it would be pretty easy if necessary. In any case, I agree with Kate - I've never really felt unsafe in London - but then such matters are entirely subjective.

3. As for the statistics - my issue isn't with using statistics - it's a matter of using them correctly.

Firstly, a rise in the number of drug offences could entirely be due to a change in policing policy. Secondly, drug offences (or burlgaries) have very little to do with how safe people feel on the streets - you might have chosen instead to highlight the recorded crimes for violence against the person, which fell in the last year. Thirdly, it appears that the Met's definitiion of Brockley misses out the majority of the area that most people think of as Brockley and instead includes most of St John's and some of New Cross - it doesn't even reach up to Hilly Fields. Anwyay, how to define Brockley is the subject of another thread. Fourthly, the incidence of murder statistics you've quoted tell us nothing about either Brockley or Plumstead. They're general stats for our respective boroughs.

Anonymous said...

I don't know a part of London that doesn't experience crime, especially the more affluent areas! Yes, Brockley was a very rough area but the strict policing/neighbour hood watch schemes and closure of troublesome venues have made all the difference. Of course darker activities do still occur but your naive to think that isn't the case in most areas now.

I had a similar perception until moving to SE London some years ago. It's not for everyone of course - but the community events/friendliness of neighbours/ beautiful mansion houses and open green spaces at 7 mins from London Bridge - I think we have something to be very proud of.

sibonetic said...

Hi Nick,

Have to say your reply was of a much higher quality this time, oh and I think your blog is excellent, just a couple of things, only mentioned the murder statistics because someone else had implied that Plumstead, has lots of murders and I could only get figures at borough level, and just thought I would mention that as I drive through Brockley every Wed evening on my way back from picking up a friend from his Mother who lives in Camberwell, was a bit put out to see a guy trying to attack the passenger of the car in front last week, and tonight I noticed Police guarding a taped off area, on Geoffrey Road, just past Brockley Cross, have to say didn't make me feel too safe

Luke said...

Yep - a house burned down on Geoffrey Road/Upper Brockley Road, thus the safety taping...

it's wild round these parts...

Anonymous said...

"I was trying not to be rude about Plumstead, but it would be pretty easy if necessary." Mate are you trying to piss Plumstead people off or what ? Half the stuff you claim as nice restaurants or parks aren't even in Brockley anyway but in Lewisham or St Johns. Obviously, your trying to talk your house price up with this "Brockley is great" website but you come across as a pretty unpleasant snob in the process.

Hugh said...

Who cares which is the safer neighbourhood? More prosperous neighbourhoods are more likely to attract muggers who snatch handbags. But that wouldn't stop me living in Chelsea.

Plumstead is an ugly, depressed wasteland. Brockley is a beautiful, leafy residential zone.

You choose.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you can choose Brockley.s leafy 248920 m2 of green space (14.9% of the land area) a large part of which is already occupied by dead people.

Alternatively there the Plumstead wasteland consisting of 880140 m2 of green space (37.6% of the area, almost exclusively Common land and Parks).

You choose 18.17m2 of green space per resident in Brockley or 62.37 m2 per person in Plumstead.

Source http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk

Anonymous said...

Two bald men fighting over a comb, anyone?

Hilarious

bob said...

Brockley is one of the safest parts of Lewisham and Lewisham is one of the safest places in inner London - according to the statistics. But you know what they say about statistics...

In the old days, the Brakespears was the epicentre of lots of street crime. When it was closed down (thanks to very courageous resident action), a lot of the crime dissappeared, but people who remember Brockley from those times and haven't been back since remember it as a dangerous place.

Plumstead I personally find a little scary.

While I'm here, I want to add that Crofton Park's dodgy junkies and aggressive beggars seem to have dissappeared since the introduction of the Safer Neighbourhoods team, which is nice.

Luke said...

Surely it's just about perception and, until you're affected directly, your outlook is skewed a certain way.

My, and I presume a lot of others' decision move to - what seems to be the great-debating zone - Brockley wasn't affected by whether it's 4th highest for
'other' sexual crime or has the 2nd highest number of robberies in Lewisham. It was because a) It meant I could afford to buy a place that wasn't outside the M25, b) It has some great leafy open spaces c) The housing stock is nice. d) It seems to have a nice community spirit (my friends have lived here for years).

Wherever you go in this great city you're going to find problems, but that's what you sacrifice by living in London. Brockley isn't that much different from Clapham, Plumstead, Kensington or Soho. I've been mugged twice in ten years; once in Ealing and once in Hither Green, both within a blinkered and uneducated month of moving to the big smoke. That doesn't make either place a bad part of town but I'll always relate my experiences to that area.

Brockley, it seems, has had its fair share of problems and that's how some people see and continue to view it. That doesn't mean, however, that it's unsafe…

Anonymous said...

Well said Luke!

The people who currently live there enjoy it, and it does feels safe and that's all that matters!

Courtney Hamilton said...

Is Brockley safer than Plumstead?

I'd rather agree with the bald men and comb analogy. Both areas have far more in common with each other, than they have differences.

Your question relates to feeling 'safe', which has led most people here to pit one area of London against another, and focus heavily on the latest crime statistics to do that.

Even though overall crime rates have fallen throughout London as a whole, yet there still appears to be a rather palatable climate of unjustified fear.

Despite the fact that both areas have significant levels of deprivation, the truth is, both areas are still relatively safe places to live.

As a life long south Londoner, I have serious reservations about anyone (especially non-Londoners) pitting one relatively poor area of London, against another relatively poor area. As we can see with all these comments, rarely does anything progressive can come from such a debate.

Luke said...

Best, most succinct comment so far...

In 100% agreement

Anonymous said...

I'm moving to crofton park, just near the train station, and this thread has really put me off, please say some encouraging things! At the moment it sounds like i'll be harrassed by aggressive beggars, mugged by a junkie and then burgled.. roll on uni!

Brockley Kate said...

Anon, I really wouldn't worry. The previous commenter is quite clearly either a shit-stirrer or about as unused to urban living as it's possible to be.
Brockley is a lovely area and you'll find the Crofton Park end of things busy and bustling with shops and bars, and the locals are on the whole very tame!

The Brockley Telegraph said...

near croftin park station? That's the old centre of brockley, so don't worry you will be nice and safe.:0)

Tressilliana said...

Anonymous, I've lived in SE4 since 1986 and I've never been mugged. Burgled once in 1992, perpetrator caught, nothing actually stolen. Maybe I walk about with my head in the clouds but I feel perfectly safe in Brockley. I take care walking back from the station late but I'd do that anywhere.

You should note that most of the comments here were posted well over a year ago, at a time when there was a female beggar (I'd call her persistent rather than aggressive) hanging around near the station. She's long ago moved on.

Monkeyboy said...

Lived all over London, doesn't feel especially unsafe around here I have to say. Don't believe the hype......

Headhunter said...

Not much to add here. I've lived Catford, Islington and Brockley and have to say that Islington felt the least safe and it's supposed to be oh so trendy.

Never had any problems in Brockley and Nick hits the nail on the head when he points out that the Met has a skewed view of what most people consider to be Brockley, integrating bits of New Cross and St Johns and not including Hilly Fields and the cemetery (no crime there!) which are in the Brockley conservation area....

brockley mutha said...

I agree with the previous comments. I've lived here since 1999 and think its a lovely part of London - which has been steadily improving over the years.

fabhat said...

I've had one (slightly self inflicted) problem in Brockley - far less than in other areas I've lived. I really like Brockley - it's got a great sense of community (see this blog for starters) You just need the same self awareness on the street as you do in any part of London...

scarlet-gray said...

Hi everyone! Really enjoying this site. Myself and a friend are looking to maybe move to Brockley - somewhere in the conservation area. However, being a girl, I'm a bit concerned about walking from the station late at night and what the atmosphere is like on nightbuses and so on. Any comments on a) the atmosphere of the area at night and b) how to keep safe! Thank you! :)

The Brockley Telegraph said...

How to keep safe in the conservation area:

1. Dont look like you are carrying a iphone/mobile.

2. Stick to the more popular streets. Harefield rd is busy-ish if coming from Brockley station.

3. Dont talk to anyone called Hugh.

Brockley Nick said...

scarlet-gray, I wouldn't say any night bus is a pleasure to travel on, but the ones I've used while in Brockley are certainly better than some.

I've never had any problems in Brockley.

Anonymous said...

Scarlet-grey
Young men are more likely to be the victims of crime than women. I've lived here over 20 years and not experienced one incident of crime on the street.
There was an interesting study done some years ago, with rapists and muggers been shown footage of women walking along the street. They were asked who would they me more likely to target. They all picked out the women who looked nervous. The message being, stride confidently and own your space.

tyrhwitt ali said...

Scarlet-grey, I feel perfectly safe coming home late at night. There are always plenty of people getting off at Brockley station, so it's not a lonely walk home.

I tend to avoid St John's station late at night and go to Lewisham if that's the next train at London Bridge.

The night buses are fine as night buses go and there are plenty of them, so you can normally get one that stops close to home.

Bea said...

I’ve lived in various parts of the conservation area for the last four years and have never felt anxious about going home late at night (I’ve even walked from Blackheath to Brockley at night and the only place I felt a little nervous was near Lewisham Station due to a large crowd of drunks!)

I’ve also lived in Bethnal Green, Hampstead and Hackney and I felt far more worried about walking home there than I do here.

Headhunter said...

Whenever I use St Johns station there are usually quite a few people getting off there, however the bridge over the tracks exits into that car park which is VERY dark at night, so dark that you can barely see where you're walking! That would scare me a little if I were on my own, anyone could be lurking there! Southern Rail or whoever is responsible really should stick som lighting in there.

Paul Bell said...

I have just moved into Brockley and I feel pretty safe once I get out of New Cross. I used to live in Bermondsey and Angel, but so far I have felt more comfortable in Brockley than Bermondsey. However, I would not set foot in Peckham after dark.

Tressillian James said...

I use St Johns all the time - and HH is right, the car park area is dark. However it is only about 10 steps to the well lit street - and as you will never be getting off the train alone (as a lot of people use this service) I should thing you would be fine. The othe roption if you come hom late at niht would be to take the train through to Lewisham and grab a cab from the fron t of the station - it's about £5-£7 to Brockley - depending where you live

tyrwhitt ali said...

Bea, I'm glad I'm not the only one that's done that walk. Admittedly at 3.30am in the morning in summer, it feels more like really early morning rather than late at night....

Headhunter said...

TJ - I wonder if there's any money to be made to offset the high cost of rail travel by "falling over" in the dark outside St Johns and suing Southern?

Headhunter said...

Paul Bell - Some bits of Peckham are actually very nice as I discovered when I got lost round there on my bike, however I suppose the bits round the Peckham stations can be a bit unsavoury

Anonymous said...

Brockley, like any where, cannot be described as safe. A mugging and assault occurred a few months back close to the station.

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