12 people have been told to pay out over £6,000 as part of a pilot clampdown on illegal street traders, gamblers and pickpockets operating on five London bridges.
Licensing officers from the City Corporation, working in partnership with the London Borough of Southwark and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, took the action on Tower Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Millennium Bridge, London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge. The bridges are run by the City Corporation.
They stopped hundreds of unlawful street trading incidents in the two-year enforcement operation, seizing 24 carts from illegal peanut, hotdog and ice cream vendors, issuing 365 warnings and resulting in 18 prosecutions.
Working with the City of London Police, Licensing Officers also disrupted 325 illegal gambling operations and 235 pickpockets.
Following the success of the pilot, the project will now be rolled out more widely, with extra officers covering more ground surrounding the bridges, after a £268k boost from central funds.
And Tower Hamlets and Southwark councils have agreed to give enforcement authority to officers to act against illegal street traders around the bridges within their local authority boundaries.
Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Environmental Services Committee, Keith Bottomley, said: “This vital enforcement is disrupting criminals and protecting Londoners from unhygienic illegal food vendors which are a serious threat to public health.
“These unlawful traders were co-ordinated, opportunistic and swiftly adapt to patterns of enforcement.
“But thanks to our partnership work, unlawful street trading within the City of London, and particularly on the bridges, has been all but eliminated.”
Councillor Evelyn Akoto, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Community Safety, at Southwark Council, said she was happy to have taken decisive steps towards addressing illegal street traders.
She said: “Because they are unlicensed, it is impossible to quality assure the foods that they sell, so they present a real risk to customer’s health.
“We also undertook this work in response to residents living around the bridges, from whom we were at points receiving daily complaints.
“Working together with the City of London Corporation, we have overcome the challenges presented by two separate entities controlling our bridges, and the legal challenges that this presented.
“We are delighted that the City Corporation is now able to enforce, seize and prosecute, on all sections of both bridges.”
Sergeant Luke Harley, working in Prevention and Partnerships at the City of London Police, added: “We’re constantly working together with our colleagues at the City of London Corporation to help keep our community safe across the Square Mile, and this is another example of our effective teamwork.
“It’s pleasing to see that this project has received extra funding, which will enable us to continue disrupting illegal gambling operations, as well as protecting members of the public from falling victim to pickpocketing.”