A number of arrests were made after a stand off with at least 40 police officers who blocked the entrance in to Thornton Heath Rec on Saturday evening with police seizing an axe and knives.
There was a line of police on the Richmond Road entrance as the police helicopter (pictured) circled above following reports that a party in the park had turned in to a fight involving weapons.
A witness was told by police that the fight involved machetes and police have said missiles were thrown at them. It has been claimed a group of youths were refusing to leave the park after possibly a BBQ which had gone on most of the afternoon. Police officers, some TSG (Territorial Support Group), quickly dispersed the groups.
A witness saw one man led away in cuffs along Bridport Road. A paramedic vehicle was visible sitting in a nearby street.
Bensham Manor police said on Twitter: “We responded to an incident in Thornton Heath Rec this evening. A large crowd was dispersed, a number of arrests made, no reported injuries.”
Later a police spokesman said :”A search of the park was carried out and four knives were recovered. Enquiries continue.”
Police issued a dispersal order. These were introduced as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 and provide the police with the extra powers to break up groups of two or more people, where they believe their behaviour is causing a nuisance, harassment or distress. The police can move individuals out of the area and stop them from returning for up to 24 hours unless they are resident in the area.
Four Croydon teenagers were arrested and have since been charged with offences.
A 17-year-old girl from Croydon, who can’t be named because of her age, was charged with possession of an offensive weapon, and possession of Class B drugs. She has been bailed until she appears at Croydon Youth Court on Thursday, July 20.
A 16-year-old boy from Purley, who also can’t be named for legal reasons, was charged with possession of a class B drug. He is subject to a referral to the Youth Offending Team Service.
Lawrence Sterling, 18, of Hunter Road, in Thornton Heath, has been charged with possession of a class B drug.
Arron Scott-Richards, also 18, of Broadway Avenue, in Selhurst, was charged with breaching a dispersal order.
Sterling and Scott have been released on bail and will appear for trial at Croydon Magsistrates’ Court on Monday, July 10.
Residents praised police for their quick response and how they contained the incident. However, some residents felt the numbers of police was an overreaction. After the park was cleared a line of police officer did a weapons sweep of the park (pictured).
The Met said in a statement: “Police were called at 7.15pm to reports of a large group that had congregated in Thornton Heath Recreation Ground.
“Further calls were received stating weapons had been seen and an altercation was ongoing.
“Local officers and the Territorial Support Group (TSG) attended the scene. Missiles were thrown at officers but there were no reports of officers injured.
“Approximately 200 people were dispersed from the park a short while later.”
This incident follows a number of complaints from local residents about anti social behaviour in the park and calls for more police and council action.
In the last week there was an assault in the park in the early hours in which a woman was allegedly attacked. Police cordoned off the scene but details were scant about what actually happened.