An alarming rise in violent robberies on antiques dealers in Portobello Road has spurred them into action to call for better police cover, CCTV cameras and even private security guards.
But it seems that any extra measures will probably have to be
funded by local firms.
While there is a longstanding problem with theft, recent attacks
are thought to be the work of a ruthless gang. Traders have been
followed and threatened by robbers brandishing a machete on
occasion, and such incidents are becoming commonplace.
Christopher Hickey of Central Gallery and ward councillor Carol
Caruana organised a meeting on Tuesday, May 22, so traders could
raise concerns with the police.
The results were described as very positive. A public meeting
with the police is now mooted for June 13 at Lighthouse West London
in Lancaster Road, near Ladbroke Grove Tube.
Police funding cuts have already led to the number of officers
patrolling Portobello on a Saturday being reduced, with risks of
further cuts if major sporting events need extra cover.
Costas Kleanthous, chairman of the Portobello Antiques
Dealers' Association, said: "I understand they only have four
police, who have to patrol in pairs. A few years back we had a
dozen police patrolling the street, and two years back it was cut
back to eight, but I was horrified to hear there were only four
"This is absolutely appalling. The real need for policing is in
the antiques section where you have small items of very high
The May 22 meeting heard that there was a chance to "buy in"
extra police presence on the street, with businesses covering the
Cllr Caruana told ATG: "I am writing to the borough
commander to see if this is a possibility. If it is it would be a
wonderful way of protecting the antique dealers.
"The problem they have is in the early morning when they arrive,
from about five onwards - that's when they feel most threatened -
and again at 3-4pm when they leave. When they arrive in the morning
that is actually the night-time police, a different shift, but if
traders were 'buying in' they could stipulate the times."
Mr Hickey said a local businessman was interested in sponsoring
CCTV cameras. It would have to be approved by Kensington and
Chelsea council planners.
Cllr Rock Feilding-Mellen, the council's Cabinet Member for
Civil Society, said: "We have recently decided to upgrade our CCTV
system. In the future we will be using a mix of the latest fixed
and mobile cameras, possibly with automatic number plate
recognition software, and we'll be deciding the locations of these
cameras based on police advice and intelligence.
He added: "We are also very open to talks with any local
businesses interested in funding special cameras wired into our
The Met Police did not respond to ATG's request for a