Illegal Gambling: Police have been given extra powers in a crackdown on con artists who target tourists and residents on and around Westminster Bridge.
Illegal gambling has been a longstanding issue affecting the area, with connected crimes such as pickpocketing occurring on a regular basis. In order to counter this issue, Lambeth Council have brought in a PSPO (Public Spaces Protection Order) for street gambling and gaming in the South Bank area.
This would mean that the police are able to take further preventative and punitive action against these offenses, such as allowing the police to issue fixed penalty notices of up to £1,000 for gambling in the area.
Lambeth Labour Councillor Mohammed Seedat, who has been in direct contact with South Bank BID regarding the issue, said: “This is about stopping the harassment and anti-social behaviour on this bridge. It’s been going on for too long, and we hope that a PSPO can finally put an end to it.”
Street gangs are known for inviting tourists to gamble their money in games on the bridge, and using the opportunity to pickpocket onlookers. The games themselves also tend to be rigged, so that participants have little to no chance of winning.
He also added: “We are working with our colleagues across the river in Westminster as well as the police, business groups and people who have complained about the issue. The move also supports the wider gambling policy currently being developed in Lambeth.”
This is also an issue for neighboring Westminster. Westminster councillor Nickie Aiken said: “Despite costly policing operations this nuisance behaviour continues to adversely affect the public. We will continue to work in partnership with Lambeth Council, the police, business groups and local people to protect and enhance Westminster, so it remains a great place to live, work, invest in, and visit.”
In recent years, a quarter of all arrests made on Westminster Bridge were relating to illegal gambling or associated behaviour. South Bank BID is committed to working with Lambeth Council in putting a stop to this petty crime in our area, and ensuring that Westminster Bridge is a safe place for all.