Sunday, May 13, 2018

Hanlon's razor.

Erith took on the appearance of a Mediterranean town over the Bank Holiday weekend; the skies were deep blue and the weather was unseasonably warm, as you can see from the photographs of the Riverside Gardens and the wooden jetty above - click on either for a larger view. I overheard one lady on the 99 bus, saying to the driver that it was "like being on holiday". The weather was a touch too hot for me - anything over around 22 degrees Celsius is more than I find comfortable - I know some ask me why I refuse to remove my tweed jacket in high temperatures; the main reason is as it offers an equivalent sun protection factor of somewhere around 1000. If exposed to strong sunlight, I do not tan, I just burn - and I hate being hot. If it is cold, you can add layers of clothing to compensate, but when it is hot, there is little you can do. If the hot weather shows signs of returning later, I may seriously consider the purchase of a Pith Helmet. One thing that warm weather brings to the local area is somewhat less welcome. I don't know if you have noticed, but for some obscure reason a certain sector of the local population takes the opportunity to shed their clothes. It seems to me that as soon as the ambient temperature exceeds the aforementioned 22 degrees, a large number of skinny blokes remove their tops and strut around bare chested. They seem to think that this in some ways makes themselves look attractive, yet it seems to have precisely the opposite effect. This strutting around minus a top only seems to last a day or so - mainly as the individuals who do it start off pasty white, and seem to not have any idea about using any form of sun block. Consequently very soon they resemble cooked lobsters, with sun burn which is only obscured by their inevitable tattoos. They seem to exhibit this behaviour year in, year out, and never seem to learn from their previous errors. Whilst you do see this behaviour elsewhere, for some reason it seems to be especially prevalent in Bexley - I wonder if it is something in the water?

You may recall that last week I wrote about the two brand new Bombardier Aventra class 345 trains that are currently based at Abbey Wood station whilst they are being tested, prior to them going into service on the Crossrail / Elizabeth Line at the end of the year. These multi million pound trains are a huge part of the investment made in the new cross London transport system that will do much to improve the transport links into our area. I must admit that when I found out that some local scrote had sprayed graffiti all over one carriage causing several thousand pounds worth of damage to the brand new train, I was extremely annoyed. What also concerned me was that the damage would have taken quite some considerable time to carry out. What if the graffiti vandal had been a terrorist? The time taken to carry out the extensive paint disfigurement of the carriage could have easily been used to plant a bomb, or to sabotage the trains' mechanisms. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at More on Crossrail later.

Something I have discovered, which until now has not been public knowledge; currently the Metropolitan Police currently have their main vehicle servicing and repair facility located in Vauxhall in Central London. Sources inform me that it will be relocating to Lower Belvedere in January 2019. I am not currently aware of the precise future location of the new workshop facility, but I am sure that information will become available soon. It is good news for the local area, as it will bring some much needed new jobs. Currently the Metropolitan Police are recruiting new Motor Vehicle Technicians - you can see the job advertisement by clicking here.

I am disappointed to say that several restaurants and takeaways in the local area that have previously achieved good results on the Scores on the Doors food hygiene rating system have now been re - tested with some appalling results. For example, the Alford Road, Erith based takeaway China Red has been demoted from a score of 4 out of 5 stars to a worrying 1 out of 5 score. Double Dragon in Gilbert Road, Lower Belvedere has also been reduced from 4 stars to 1. Fortune Star in Erith Road, Bexleyheath has gone from an excellent 5 star rating to a one star, and K's Cafe in Nuxley Road, Upper Belvedere has been rated as 1 star; what is also shocking is the former 4 star rated Radhuny Indian takeaway in Pickford Lane Bexleyheath has been reduced to a single star. The Radhuny has had an excellent reputation, and has published its four star hygiene status on its advertising materials. This is also true of the Root of Spice takeaway in Parsonage Manorway, Upper Belvedere, which also has been rated with 1 star - many locals have regarded the Root of Spice as one of the best Indian takeaways in the borough. This hygiene rating will be a shock to many regulars. A recent review on the Root of Spice dated the 8th of April this year stated:- "Recently moved and so happy to have a brilliant Indian takeaway that deliver! Best curry ever, and we have had many! Won't go anywhere else now. Speedy delivery and good portion size. 10/10". The poor old Belvedere Tandoori gets kicked whilst it is down yet again - the nowadays much unloved sit - in restaurant gets another 1 star rating. I don't know how it manages to struggle on - it has been up for sale for nearly two years, and after relinquishing its drinks licence. Rumours that it is to relaunch as a Turkish restaurant have thus far come to nothing. I really hope a buyer comes along soon to turn around this once much loved restaurant and put it back on a better footing.

There was a discussion in Parliament on Thursday regarding the proposal to extend Crossrail from Abbey Wood, where it currently terminates, down to Ebbsfleet - the short hand for the Crossrail to Ebbsfleet project is "C2E". Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford, said Government should prioritise finishing the job of Crossrail. Calling it “absurd” that the two great achievements of HS1 and Crossrail are not connected, despite being so close - and despite their joining-up being part of the original vision for Crossrail. He said that the decision to not finish the job on Crossrail had created “ten miles of missed opportunity” between the two lines. Ten miles that will be transformed by C2E, and where the availability of brownfield land offers a unique opportunity to bring much-needed regeneration and housing. Local MP Teresa Pearce (Erith and Thamesmead), made it clear that Crossrail was integral to growth and regeneration strategies in South East London. David Evennett MP (Bexleyheath and Crayford), highlighted the huge support across the area for finishing the job - describing the case for extending beyond Abbey Wood as compelling, and warning that not pushing on risked missing major opportunities for residents and businesses. Responding for the Government, Jo Johnson MP paid tribute to the C2E campaign, local MPs and Council Leaders for their consistent championing of the C2E extension. Jo Johnson agreed that there had been considerable change in South East London and North Kent since the decision to not extend beyond Abbey Wood had been finalised in The 2008 Crossrail Act, and in light of this said Government would take a fresh look at the case for extending to Ebbsfleet. Now that the giant theme park that was due to be constructed near Swanscombe - formerly called the London Paramount theme park, has been delayed yet again, and the development is now looking to be very doubtful. What effect this will have following the statement by Jo Johnson is currently unknown. More in the weeks to come.

Further to my article last week in respect of possible potential problems with mobile phone usage. A senior British judge has highlighted the benefits of legislation that obliges people to carry their mobile phone at all times. Sir Geoffrey Vos QC, Chancellor of the High Court and former head of the Bar Council, raised the prospect of compulsory mobile phone carrying in a speech to the Law Society. Judge Vos drew attention to the advantages that a permanent record of an individual's movement could have on cutting crime. He did not personally advocate the compulsory carrying of location-aware technology, but speculated that public resistance to it may diminish in the future. "I think there will be far fewer contested criminal cases in the future, mainly because of the surveillance of which I have already spoken. We have recently seen the impact that digital disclosure of mobile phone records has had on rape prosecutions. One change in behaviour is already having a big impact on the eradication of contested criminal cases. Most people carry their smartphones on their person at all times with their GPS location switched on. They do this voluntarily, but if the legislators were, for example, to require citizens to carry phones at all times, it would be even more difficult to avoid detection. With or without such a rule, as the location of all persons is continuously uploaded to the cloud, there will be far fewer identity issues in criminal cases. As society seems to accept more and more surveillance, I wonder how radical the change I have mentioned will seem to the population in 10, 15 or 20 years' time". Digital mobile phones have always offered law enforcement the ability to obtain the location of devices via cell tower triangulation, but Silicon Valley's obsessive data hoarding has made the job easier. Google never throws anything away, and continues to collect (and store) location data even when GPS location services are disabled. Two years ago a US appeal court ruled that law enforcement requests to obtain the location history acquired and stored by Google Maps did not require a warrant, as the user had shared the data voluntarily. All this is somewhat moot; Judge Vos does not seem to have a very good handle on human behaviour. He does not seem to understand that quite a large number of people have more than one mobile phone, which may not all be in the same location. Conversely, according to The Office for National Statistics, seven percent of the UK population do not use, or indeed own a mobile phone. Unless Judge Vos has his comments picked up by one of the tabloid newspapers, I doubt we will hear very much more of this story. I believe that Hanlon's razor applies here:- "never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence."

The highly influential iMac range of computers from Apple had its twentieth birthday this week. The original - and some way the most revolutionary - version of the computer was launched in May 1998. You can see a photo of the "mark one" version above - click on the photo for a larger view. The original iMac was a product full of firsts. It was Apple’s first computer to be built for the internet era (that is where the i comes from.) It was the first to drop all legacy I/O such as serial and parallel ports in favour of the more modern USB standard. It was the first to show that computers could be cool. To design the iMac, Apple pushed its latent industrial design team, a group that had been underserved by previous company leaders. While the iMac wasn’t the first Apple product to use translucent plastic, it was decidedly more “Un-PC,” without a spot of beige to be found. At the time, all other desktop computers were inevitably beige in colour - whilst other manufacturers were aware that other colours were available, the beige option was the cheapest to produce, as being beige at the outset tended to hide the case discolouration over time due to the Bromine compounds introduced into the ABS plastic to act as a fire retardant. Incidentally old computer restorers have created a chemical cleaning product called Retrobright to restore discoloured computer cases, which I wrote about back in 2014, that you can read here. I digress; The iMac did not come with a bland beige case; quite the opposite. Then-Vice President of Industrial Design, Briton Sir Jony Ive asked “What computer would The Jetsons have had?” when designing the original iMac. Retro-futurism played a quietly important role in the computer’s appeal to customers, which was reminiscent of both the aesthetic used in the animated cartoon series and even vintage computer terminals. The iMac’s vibrant hues also embodied the spirit of 1960s Olivetti typewriters, which were notable for their use of colour in a market dominated by dull, corporate designs.

Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly an announcement regarding ward boundary changes:- "With the local elections last week came the Borough's ward changes. With the police SNT Teams not initially expected to have changed their wards until November, it was decided at short notice to implement the changes this week. Hence, our slight delay in sending this email. So you will see that the weekly ward updates below are listed under the new wards. If you are unsure which ward applies to your street, fear not! Visit, enter your postcode and it should show. Even if your ward still shows below unchanged, your street may still have been allocated to another so it is well worth double-checking". Barnehurst ward:- "Good news again for Barnehurst as we did not have many crimes. Criminal Damage to Motor Vehicle- We had 4 motor vehicles on Mayplace Road East that had paint poured over them between the evening of 06/05/18 and the early hours of 07/05/18. We have continued to tackle anti social behaviour on the ward as 1 Section 59 warning was issued to a driver of an off road motor cycle, who was driving in an Anti- Social Manner". Belvedere ward:- "As you are hopefully all aware the ward boundaries have changed in Bexley. Belvedere has expanded, taking over part of Lesnes Abbey and Erith. Welcome to our new Neighbourhood Watch residents. To contact your team you can e-mail us on or call us on 0208 721 2050. We are still delivering recruitment letters to residents on our ward and will hopefully set up some new ones in our expanded area. If you know anyone that would like to join please contact the Neighbourhood Watch office [by replying to this email]. Thanks to Peabody housing, we have recovered a stolen moped and returned it to its owner. It was found by their staff on the Galleon Estate in some bushes. If you do see any abandoned vehicles which do not look quite right please let us know as they may be stolen. Last Friday the Belvedere team assisted the North Heath team with a drugs warrant where an amount of cannabis was seized. On Saturday we assisted the North End team with a drugs warrant on their patch. Nothing found on this occasion. If anyone suspects that one of their neighbours are dealing drugs then please tell us, we will act on the information and it will be kept confidential. We keep seeing a red moped with the index of YX07 EVN driving around Lower Belvedere. The rider is causing a nuisance by doing wheelies and driving on the pavements. We have tried to catch the rider but he has eluded us. The moped is not currently registered. If you see it parked up anywhere please let us know as we want to take this moped off the streets and have it crushed for causing anti-social behaviour". Bexleyheath ward:- "Apologies that we have very little today as the systems are all out of sync at the time of submitting this update due to the ward boundary changes. Welcome to parts of our new ward from the old Barnehurst and Brampton wards.  We have been assisting the rough sleepers finding suitable shelter rather than sleeping on the streets. We intervened in a rogue trader who was trying to extort more money from a local resident. We worked with partner agency, Trading Standards; Persons selling fake items on the Broadway have been dealt with. Good news - there have been no burglaries or attempted burglaries". Crayford ward:- "Crayford SNT met on site at the Braeburn Nature Reserve with Shaun Marriott of the London Wildlife Trust to discuss ways of preventing off road bike riders gaining access to the area. This is private land and it is not legal to ride off road motorcycles anywhere here. Volunteers are working hard to restore pathways, create fencing and encourage wildlife to the area. They hold regular events and walks - it’s lovely for family walks and dog walking so it is a pity if a few spoil it for others by their anti-social behaviour. We were given the details of a van that had brought three motorcycles to the Nature Reserve and have contacted the company to make them aware that their employee had done so. He will not have the authority to use this vehicle again. On Polling Day, members of our team paired up with Brampton and Barnehurst officers to ensure that regular checks were made on fifteen Polling Stations across our area for the opening times of 07.00-22.00. On Tuesday 08/05/2018 at 17.10 there was a violent shoplifter at Sainsbury's. Off duty police officers assisted in the arrest. Overnight between 15.00 on 6th May and 09.00 on 7th May a Ford Transit Camper Van was interfered with whilst parked on the driveway in Station Road. The driver’s lock was found on the ground, the passenger lock was tampered with, the ignition had been barrelled and wiring pulled out and the housing surrounding the steering column had been removed and taken. In this instance it would seem that the vehicle battery was flat. There have been a number of ABH, racial and public order offences and arrests have been made. Between 1st May and 5th May a smart car had number plates and wing mirror glass removed whilst parked in Wyatt Road. The London Fire Brigade called police on Sunday to Ridge Way after a sofa was set on fire outside a property, although no accelerants were found the fire was viewed as suspicious, some cosmetic damage was done to the house. This is not the first time recently, please be aware that it only takes a discarded cigarette and dry conditions for an accident to happen, please don’t let this happen to you. Boots reported a shoplifter on 30/05/2018 at 08.59 am. Hobbycraft were able to recover goods stolen from them on 01/05/2018. On 1st May it was discovered that the empty Duke of Wellington Public House at London Road had been broken in to. Entry was made by forcing the rear doors, security cameras were stolen as well as a copper cylinder, the alarm was smashed. We assisted Brampton SNT on Wednesday with a S23 Drugs Warrant. A lady was processed for using her mobile phone whilst driving in Crayford last week. Officers were alerted to a house alarm going off in Iron Mill Lane, thankfully no burglary, it had gone off in error". Erith ward:- "We have a little change of staff in Erith. PC Tom Brown is on an attachment to Lewisham for a few months, PC Charlie Moore is covering Erith as DWO in his place. Also, PCSO Maxine is back on Erith after being on an attachment in Sidcup. So currently your officers in Erith are as follows: PS Bryan Young, PC Gill Couzens, PC Charlie Moore, PCSO Adam Winch, PCSO Maxine Cypher. Ward changes for Erith - We are losing the area of Battle Road including all the side roads from Willis Road to Beltwood Rd, Franks Park and most of Carlton Road. Most of this area is going to Belvedere Ward. We are taking the areas of Larner Road, including Erith Park". Longlands ward:- "Attempted Burglary reported in Carlton Road between 05/05/18/ - 07/05/18. Victim states that she left her house in the morning to go away for a couple of days making sure that everywhere was locked and secured. Unknown Suspect have attempted to break into the garden shed out the rear of the property. Victim states that the suspect/s have attempted to gain entry to the bike shed and have also tried to enter the main shed and have damaged the roof. Entry was not gained. Nothing has been stolen. There have been no reports of Vehicle Crime in Longlands over the last week. On the 4th of May 2018 team arrested a male juvenile for the offence of Possession with intend to supply where after a search he was found in possession of several bags of cannabis". Northumberland Heath ward:- "On Friday 04/05/2018 the team executed a search warrant in Brook Street following intelligence that drugs were being dealt from an address. A number of drugs exhibits were seized and a full investigation will follow. We will continue to tackle all forms of anti-social behaviour including drug delated crime. Please contact us if you have any information that would assist us in tackling these issues. We are pleased that we have had no burglaries reported to us over the last week. One criminal damage to a motor vehicle in Sussex Road. Following the recent ward boundary changes that came in last Thursday following the local council elections, we have gained a number of roads from the Colyers ward. If you have any concerns about which Policing team cover your road, please contact us and we will do our best to help you". Slade Green and North End ward:- "In the last week there have been 4 vehicle crimes, all of which took place overnight. Number plates were stolen from a car in Alderney Road and a reflector light taken from the roof of a council work truck in Wallhouse Road. Both of these happened on the evening of the 4th/5th May. A Sat Nav was taken from a car in Rainbow Road on the evening of 7th/8th May. On the evening of 8/9 May a vehicle had all its windows smashed in Raleigh Close, Frobisher Road. Enquiries are ongoing to ascertain why the victim was targeted. PC’s Mark and James carried out several stop and searches this past week. A vehicle and 2 occupants were searched in Manor Road close to Appold Street after a strong smell of cannabis was detected coming from the car. Drugs paraphernalia was found but no actual drugs. Last Thursday was Polling day and all 3 officers from the team spent the day patrolling the ward and visiting the various polling stations. During these patrols 2 stop and searches were carried out, one in Shermanbury Close leading to a cannabis warning being issued and the second one ended up with the male being arrested for Possession with Intent to Supply (PWITS). A search warrant was executed at Frobisher Road last week with help from our colleagues from North Heath and Colyers Ward and we reciprocated the favour by assisting them with a warrant in Brook Street on North Heath ward. Drugs were seized at both warrants. PCSO Mark has this week attended the Slade Green Big Local Stakeholders Conference where he has made several good new contacts to work in partnership alongside in looking at ways for everyone to improve the local community". Thamesmead East ward:- "Burglaries - Over the bank holiday week-end a burglary occurred at The Link in Bazalgette Way. Motor Vehicle Crimes - Between the hours of 06:00 pm and 08:00 on Friday 04/05/18 both the front and rear number plates were taken from a vehicle parked in Dalberg Way. On Friday 04/05/18 between the hours of 08:00pm and 02:00pm on Saturday 05/05/18 a number plate was taken from another vehicle parked in Dalberg Way. Following the recent Local Elections Thamesmead East has acquired another 7 streets and 6 tower blocks to patrol, as the Lesnes Abbey ward is no longer".

As you may have read back in December, several swans were killed and mutilated in Thamesmead; it was thought that the perpetrator was the so called "Croydon Cat Killer" - a bit of a misnomer in reality, as the person has killed all sorts of domestic animals as well as hundreds of cats in the last few years, and the killings have been spread over a very wide geographic area. Charity workers trailing the so-called Croydon cat killer linked to more than 400 brutal animal murders nationwide have said in a recent interview that “everything points to one person” carrying out the attacks. Boudicca Rising and her partner Tony Jenkins, the two members of South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (SNARL), have detailed the tell-tale signs of the murderer in a new documentary. The pair have been investigating since 2015, when they began noticing reports of cat mutilations in and around Croydon. They have since launched a UK-wide hunt for what is thought to be the country’s first serial animal killer, with reports of murders as far as Manchester, Brighton and the Isle of Wight. “We are not sure if we are talking about one person or a group. Everything we have learnt so far points to one person. Unless he is working with someone very closely, he is by himself because of the way he is working.” Mr Jenkins added: “We have not had any killings on the same day very far away from each other, which could indicate one person.” Rescue organisation SNARL was launched in 2014 to rehabilitate and re-home poorly treated animals. Now, a sometimes harrowing documentary has been made on SNARL's investigations into the pet killer. In 2015, Tony Jenkins, one half of South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (SNARL) began noticing reports of cat mutilations in and around Croydon, London. Following the scent, he and his partner Boudicca Rising unearthed a shocking history of animals deaths which would lead to a nationwide hunt for what it thought to be the UK’s first serial animal killer. Now with over 350 victims, the killer has been given many names:- the Croydon Cat Killer, the M25 Animal Killer, the UK Animal Killer. The brutal “signature” display of the dismembered pets around the homes of their owners is a chilling indication of the killer’s intention to do harm to people as much as the animals. In an unlikely union between two renegade animal rights activists and the establishment, Tony and Boudicca are joined in following the trail of bodies by the RSPCA and the Metropolitan Police. Together they balance the emotional demands of the case with the need for a clear minded approach to a bewildering and unrelenting string of attacks. With unprecedented access to the action as it unravels, “Catching a Cat Killer” goes to the heart of of a strange and chilling quest to end the killing spree. The documentary runs for just under half an hour, and can make harrowing watching. Let me know what you think by either leaving a comment below, or by Emailing me at

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