BECKENHAM: I was on my way to Starbucks to focus on job hunting and was waved away from my favoured route up Croydon Road by an officer wielding a long rifle. I am somewhat desensitized to long weapons on show in central London so it took a while for this to sink in. I spoke to officers, feeling a little confused at this point, and worked out a new route to Starbucks through Croydon Recreation Ground, where my son regularly plays.
On the road, I saw an armed officer with a weapon trained on the upstairs windows of a flat. Police appeared to be engaged in a search at the front door. Coming in and out with boxed equipment. A forensic kit or device I expect, rather than the contents of the flat as in other raids. A silver SUV was pulled across the road, as if to deliberately block it. Armed officers stood at intersections in the open protecting the operation and unarmed officers were on stand by in cars parked in Durban and Belmont Roads. As I left the bin lorry, then other traffic, was allowed through and the road appeared to be reopening.
I noticed the first car in the queue heading south was owned by a driving school. I did not see if a pupil was at the wheel, but that would have been an interesting first lesson. The number 54 bus was three cars back, fully occupied. A crowd gathered to watch, including twitter user @pauldamany:
People at the bus stop appeared to think it was a traffic accident. A woman I spoke to was shocked when (simplifying) I told her the investigating officers had “machine guns” (probably semi-automatic rifles, in fact).
Here are my pictures:
It is a point of political interest that Croydon Road Recreation ground was not evacuated. The officer with his rifle trained on the windows was in what Warhammer gamers would call hard-cover – behind a car – consistent with the idea he might in fact get shot at. If that is the case, what was going to save the children using the Recreation Ground? The iron fence? The trees? A couple of extra metres of distance?
As I write this up in Starbucks a familiar looking officer is buying a round of coffee. There is the occasional siren, but I expect all is now calm, but I am myself a little rattled.
LATER: perhaps I was right to be rattled. Apparently a woman had been imprisoned falsely at the flat.
MORE: a dog team is on it’s way to the flat.