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Park rape triggers call for safety measures

Haringey accused of dragging heels over improvements

02 July, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

CALLS for more safety measures at Finsbury Park have grown louder after police opened a rape investigation.

Officers are investigating after a woman in her 20s was attacked by the entrance of the Manor House Gate in the early hours of last Wednesday – June 23. Detectives are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Now, demands for better lighting and other security measures are being directed at Haringey Council, which manages the park on the borders of three boroughs.

Joe Caluori, who works for crime research and strategy agency Crest Advisory, said: “It is completely unacceptable to have a strategic asset like that – a huge park in an area that has so little green space – and rather than deal with it by making difficult decisions or moving finances to do the work that is needed, or to ask for the money to do it from other people, they [Haringey] are just saying ‘over four years we will do it’.”

Mr Caluori is a former Labour councillor in Islington who once held the community safety brief in the Town Hall cabinet.
“I don’t know how many more attacks it will have to be before they do anything,” he said. “It is infuriating.”

The calls for action can be traced back to 2018 when a woman in her 40s was raped in Finsbury Park. And seven months prior to that, Iuliana Tudos, 22, was stabbed to death in the park on Christmas Eve while she was making her way home from working a shift in a pub.

Iuliana Tudos was stabbed to death in the park on Christmas Eve in 2017

After the incident, police officers had recommended to Haringey Council that they wanted to see the park locked at night, fences fixed and improved lighting.

Haringey then held a consultation on proposals with nearby residents.

But Mr Caluori said: “The park is still not locked at night. The lighting is terrible. There is still not enough CCTV and the border fence is a mess. It took Haringey over a year to respond to the police recommendations. Locking was seen as bad for rough sleepers, new lighting bad for bats.”

Tom Graham, from the Friends of Finsbury Park group, said: “It’s incredibly saddening we haven’t seen as many improvements as required in this massive public place.”

Haringey Council’s deputy leader Councillor Mike Hakata said: “We’ve enhanced our staff presence and improved visibility in Finsbury Park to prevent anti-social behaviour and ensure community safety. In response to the feedback we received from the public consultation on proposed improvements, we’re also installing CCTV cameras and will be looking to improve the overhead lighting to the footpaths there too.”

He added: “We will continue to engage with external stakeholders and our partners on our plans to improve community safety. Like we do on issues that affect the three boroughs around the park, we’ll listen to their views and will be exploring all options which put people’s safety first.”

Police said a suspect in their investigation was wearing a pair of distinctive orange headphones around his neck and was riding a pedal cycle.

Detective Inspector Andrew Cook, leading the investigation, said: “The victim is being supported by specialist officers.”

He said a 29-year-old man had been arrested and since released on bail, adding: “Though an arrest has been made through a diligent investigation by officers, it is still vital we speak to anyone who has information that could assist our enquiries.”

Any witnesses, or anyone with any information or dashcam footage, should call 101 with CAD reference 446/23JUN

Alternatively contact Crimestoppers, 100 per cent anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org

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