'Scared' Croydon market traders call for better security and more CCTV after fatal stabbing

Market trader Jose Joseph outside his fruit and veg stall on Surrey Street Market
Jose Joseph outside his fruit and veg stall on Surrey Street Market -Credit:Harrison Galliven/LDRS

On a cold and bright morning, you cannot avoid the hustle and bustle at the busy corner of Church Street and Surrey Street in Croydon town centre. This spot, home to one of South London’s most historic markets, hums with activity like it would on any other of the six days a week it is open.

All seems normal, save for a few market spaces near the top of the street. However, the harrowing sight of memorial flowers on the ground outside Fellmongers Yard is a stark reminder of what happened just days earlier. The fatal stabbing of 22-year-old Rijkaard Salu Siafa just after 6pm last Friday (April 12) shook the local community and forced the market into a two-day lockdown while police scoured the crime scene.

While tributes have been paid to ‘what a lovely boy’ Rijkaard was, market regulars feel security needs to be tightened up to stop tragedies like this from recurring. While crime is not new in the market, traders and shoppers feel the current security arrangement is not enough and does not suit their needs.

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Flowers left for 22-year-old Rijkaard Salu Siafa, who was stabbed to death
Flowers left for 22-year-old Rijkaard Salu Siafa, who was stabbed to death -Credit:Harrison Galliven/LDRS

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), market trader and community activist Jose Joseph said: “We’re not happy about these things, we’re scared about these things. We all have children. There is fear because of what happened, people think this a bad place. There are mostly ladies and children here, they need protection.”

Mr Joseph has had his stall on the market for the last 15 years and is an important part of the Surrey Street community. He told the LDRS that despite his respect for Met Police officers working in Croydon, he felt officers could have better communicated with residents following the fatal stabbing.

He told the LDRS: “Three times I asked the police when can I move my boxes from the scene, and they said they will let me know. When they eventually left here they didn’t say anything and people started taking my stuff.

“They did not inform any resident that the police cordon had ended. They could have at least let people know that. There were people with small children who couldn’t get out to buy anything during the cordon. If they had any humanity they would have come to tell people they could leave.”

'People felt scared...but in Croydon we jump back to it'

Fairfield ward councillor Ria Patel is a regular visitor to the market and told the LDRS this isn’t the first time the market regulars have felt their concerns have been ignored. Speaking to the LRDS, she said: “People felt quite scared over the weekend, but because it’s Croydon people jump back to it.

“We have two CCTV cameras on the road but they rotate around to focus on Church Street half the time. I know some traders really wanted one in the middle so it could rotate around and see everything but that hasn’t happened so far.”

Councillor Ria Patel on Surrey Street Market
Fairfield Ward Councillor Ria Patel on Surrey Street Market -Credit:Harrison Galliven/LDRS

Outside of police controls, the responsibility of securing the market largely falls on the local BID rangers who walk up and down the street in pairs. BID rangers are un-uniformed officers trained in de-escalation who act as the eyes and ears on the ground for the police.

However, Cllr Patel, who is also a Green Party candidate for the London Assembly, highlighted to a number of flaws that she believes allow crime to thrive on the street. She told the LDRS that the walkway rising above the market was often used as a drug stash spot and getaway for would-be criminals.

She added: “We also only have one toilet for women but the door keeps breaking. There’s no toilet for men, which means they often have to go into the Whitgift Centre or urinate in the street.”

Surrey Street regular Kelly Gater believes the causes of crime in the area go beyond policing and lack of facilities on the street. She told the LDRS: “What went down doesn’t represent Croydon, it just breaks my heart.”

Kelly, a resident of the nearby Tamworth Road estate, felt that a lack of community support has let down Croydon’s youth and has turned to crime as a result. She told the LDRS: “Croydon has the youth and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t get what they need. We can keep relying on churches to do the community work.

"Imagine if we opened one big place for the youth in the town centre. You would actually have a place where you could keep an eye on them. You’re not going to stop everything, we know that. The enemy moves in mysterious ways but I feel for the parents who are getting the phone call.

“It's the parents who are hearing that their son has been killed, but also those that are hearing their son is going to be going to prison. People are using poverty as an excuse, it's all about community. It’s all about love.”

Walkway above Surrey Street Market
Market traders say criminals use the walkway above Surrey Street as a drugs stash and getaway spot -Credit:Harrison Galliven/LDRS

Met Police response

A 20-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder. Police are now asking anyone who saw what happened to come forward and speak to officers.

In a statement published on Saturday (April 13), Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Lee from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command leads the investigation and said: “Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Rijkaard’s family and friends who are coming to terms with his death following this shocking incident. This loss has ripped an irreparable hole in their family and I would ask their privacy is respected at this difficult time.

“I would also like to thank those members of the public who rushed to help Rijkaard in the immediate aftermath. I would urge anyone who saw events unfold and has yet to contact police to do immediately.

“Local residents will continue to see an increased police presence around the area of Fellmongers Yard – if you have any concerns, please speak to one of them.”

Bid Rangers on Surrey Street market
Bid Rangers regularly patrol Surrey Street market -Credit:Harrison Galliven/LDRS

Superintendent Mitch Carr, who leads for community policing in Croydon said: "First and foremost our thoughts are with the family and friends of Rijkaard who has lost his life in tragic circumstances.

"The local teams in Croydon will be working to ensure a visible police presence across the town centre to offer reassurance to the community. Please do speak to officers about any concerns you may have. I would also like to pass on my thanks to the community for their assistance and cooperation to officers who responded to this extremely challenging incident."

Croydon Council was approached for comment but failed to respond in time for publication. Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or ‘X’ @MetCC and quote CAD6022/12Apr. You can also provide information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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