Woolwich coffee shop complains of anti-social behaviour “terrorising our customers and destroying our business”

Woolwich town centre’s Coffee Lounge has hired bouncers to protect staff and customers after complaints of numerous issues at the site located in Equitable House on General Gordon Square.

In a series of damning tweets the shop’s staff complained of incidents that have not been handled by either the police or Greenwich Council.

They stated: “we’ve contacted everyone from ASB team right up to our MP but to no avail. Our staff and customers are subject to abuse, threatening behaviour and outright fear everyday.”

It raises questions as to the effectiveness of Woolwich town centre wardens often seen in the suare.

The coffee shop is an independent business that opened in Woolwich a few years ago after a tussle with Greenwich Council over serving alcohol.

Have you had many experiences or issues in the square or wider town centre? Is it a safe place day and night?

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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

34 thoughts on “Woolwich coffee shop complains of anti-social behaviour “terrorising our customers and destroying our business”

  • Not surprised, its woolwich! Was not nice when i lived there couple of decades ago and most likely much worse now

  • Shower master how nice the council try to make the area by letting big developers build fancy housing. You can’t polish a turd. Thanks to the mentality of the local gangs and their ilk that’s all Woolwich will ever be.

  • I walked past this coffee place the other day in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon and had nothing but intimidation and harrasment from some of the customers so I hope the bouncers will deal with these!

  • There’s always suspicious people hanging outside the betting shop next door.

  • Slow news day Murky..? By your standards this is a bit reactionary..

    • So you don’t care, Gary?

          • I don’t see how that was an attack. I am a devoted follower of this blog and they do a great job. My concern is that an article like this adds to the narrative of ‘oh Woolwich is a s***hole’ ‘the kids are ASBOs’ etc. Which is evident in the comments here – I don’t think this is beneficial.

  • I think it’s great that an independent coffee shop is taking a firm stand, we all know the police and council are useless. Those wardens are a waist of resources. The ASBO generation have grown up and Greenwich Council (along with the Met police) are ill equipped to tackle the anti sociable behaviour. Gangs sell drugs in Broad daylight, school kids run a mock, stealing from shops or fight with each other, the alcohol and drug problems are to be seen everywhere. Its a mess, this whole area is a mess, the police couldn’t care (caught thieves stealing cars last year on cctv, twice, took evidence to police station, even cracked the case.. Thieves sold it to a local scrapyard, police never even followed up on it.. Disgusting.. As it stands I still see these guys driving around looking for cars to steal). Whatever measures are in place are clearly not working.

    • I agree, I think it’s crazy these people are allowed to run riot in Woolwich. I live in one of the new developments but never venture into the town centre because of the dodgy characters I see hanging around. The council should stop chasing developers and start investing in the town as nobody is going to hang around in an area that doesn’t feel safe for the majority.


      • I have watched all the shiny, highrise developments shoot up around Woolwich and agree with your points. You can’t just parachute in these enclaves in a poor area and do nothing to lift up the surrounding areas. Greenwich council’s coffers are overflowing with s106 money, yet not a penny is being spent to improve the environment.

        For those who blame betting shops, the government’s recent reduction of the stake on ‘fixed odds betting’ terminals should see a halt to new applications and maybe the closure of existing shops.

  • I get off the DLR every day and have to walk through the square to the bus stop. I’m amazed at how many betting shops there are and the amount of people hanging around. Usually men in their late 20’s or 30’s who should know better. The rubbish strewn everywhere is an absolute disgrace. When the world cup was on I was going to watch on the big screen but didn’t want to be associated with these kind of people and draw attention to myself. Yet,when you cross the road to the brand new development of apartments, bars etc on the river front. It’s like crossing over to a safe border. WHY?

    • Agreed! The number of betting shops (I think there are at least five?) is the main culprit as to what attracts the riff raff and then the riff raff then spreads into the surrounding area by going into the coffee shop to use its facilities and ruining its atmosphere in the process. Shocking that a coffee shop of all places needs bouncers in daytime!

      It’s not just Woolwich but other areas in London with betting shops are the same. They attract drunken ASBOs who shout, drink, spit, smoke, litter etc. The sooner these betting shops are shut down the better as they are anti-social and prey on poor people. Will Greenwich Council have the balls to tackle this issue? If not, why not?

      Another phenomenon I noticed that they have effectively decriminalised cannabis and most of the time I walk through GG Square I can smell it – even though there are children sitting in the vicinity!

  • If everyone here took the matter to an MP, they would be compelled to respond effectively. I’m doing this right now. So should you, bombard them with this isue as it adds pressure and supports Coffee Lounges effort also.

  • OMG, Ive lived in Woolwich for 10 years and barely recognise the comments above! Wont go into town centre for fear of ‘dodgy people’? What do you mean by ‘dodgy’? Do you mean poor? WTAF? I shop in town regularly, also drink there and use the Coffee Lounge. Id go more often if there were still some bigger shops. Ive never witnessed any trouble at the CL, really sorry to hear this happens. The only ASB i have seen is at the Drs in the square- that place is scary!
    I am genuinely shocked to read these comments. No wonder the town centre is run down if residents run the place down liked this.
    On the up side, it keeps my rent just about affordable.

    • Yes. Not only poor but uneducated and jobless. Fucking scary people. I moved into the area and never dare to walk pass that area. It is worse than shit hole.

  • Why do we keep voting the same council in? Can’t cope with parking violations, can’t make our streets safe, can’t spend tfl money appropriately. This isn’t about being poor it’s about the council not stepping up. Feeling safe on our own streets shouldn’t be a big ask. If it carry’s on we can start pushing for a vote of no confidence and have them replaced.

  • The council keep getting the votes. The scary thing is the amount of votes they get. Riverside ward had a lead of THOUSANDS last time out. Labour will never be gone, progress will never be made.

  • Hi

    Point taken on the voting issue. That being said, it’s an enforcement issue. That means a joint task by both the police and council. I agree with the fact that cannabis has become somewhat legalised in Greenwich and with the new medical cannabis laws coming into effect, people are going to use it as an excuse to light up. As for caring about the welfare of kids, that’s gone out the door ages ago, people just don’t care anymore. It’s sad, but without proper intervention, the situation will deteriorate. I just don’t think that Greenwich Council sees it as a priority. Look at the pathway between the traffic lights (Royal Arsenal) and Woolwich Station, the pavement is filthy and it stinks, you would think that they would get out the pressure washer and give it a decent blast sometime. This response on this article has inspired me to write to my MP.

  • Intimidation is rife especially when waiting for DLR to open early morning …. lost count of number of times I was asked for money or a cigarette and if I said sorry No … received verbal abuse … even was shoved into a wall on one occasion!

    • That’s awful. Hopefully you reported it so it at least appears on the Met Police’s stats.

  • You can report these issues on the Met Police Local Neighbour Team websites for the area, At least the the problems are reported and action can be taken. The local Met Police Neighbourhood Teams should also hold meetings you need to go along and make your views known to them. You should also complain to the MP and Greenwich Council. People should not have to put up this type of anti social behaviour.

  • Redbrigadeer
    I agree with you. Im a woman in my late 30s, lived in Woolwich for 3 years now. I walk through the square all the time and even late at night. I regularly get off the DLR at midnight and wait for the bus.
    I never have any trouble. Maybe just lucky, but still – not everyone has had bad experience.
    Its simply not right to talk about Woolwich as full of “dodgy” people. A lot of people in the Square are just on very low incomes. Is that a crime now.
    There was actually a party atmosphere for the World Cup on the big screen. Was there any violence or trouble that would have justified the commenter above who said she go there because she didn’t want to be “associated” with “these people.”
    Also the reason the arsenal developmemt is quiet is probably because its covered with CCTV. When you look up you can see the camaeras. Do you want to be watched by security every moment of every day just so you dont have to see people from “the wrong side of the tracks.”
    I agree the betting shops encourage single men to waste their time, hang around. The person who commented above that this happens with all betting shops is right. This is not news. So there is a planning or licensing issue there with Greenwich Council which a number of people have pointed out.
    Agree also with Shuaib above – the Council doesn’t pressure wash the footpaths enough or at all. Smelly.
    I don’t doubt that the owner of the coffee lounge is telling the truth. I think the coffee lounge is a lovely place so he deserves our support. I think the person who commented above that we should write to our MP is also right. I intend to do so and I’m going to name check the owner of the coffee lounge.
    Look i’m not saying all is perfect or we shouldn’t complain, but surely the truth is this is a policing issue. And if we want things to change we should complain to the police or MP.
    Talking about “those people” and about how woolwich is a crime-ridden isn’t useful because it puts down the whole area and just isn’t nice language.

  • Woolwich is a dump – Most people would admit to this. No matter how much money they throw at it, it will remain so as long as the significant (not sure how many) amount of people causing trouble remain there.
    Complaining that it talks down the area or it isn’t nice language is dealing with the reaction and not primary issue.
    I’ve lived in the borough of Greenwich all my life (Plumstead to Charlton to Blackheath), and all the areas I used to live in have all gone backwards in ‘some’ aspects in the last 20 or so years.
    Horrible planning/building schemes, council policies contributing to the decline of the high-street etc.
    All these highly dense buildings popping up, dumping families together and expecting to be cohesion is never going to happen and will only cause tension.
    There is a hell of lot of street gangs/knife crime, drug dealing etc that goes on in the area that people are unaware of as it’s underground, but occassionally it pops up in view

    But hey, lets keep voting the same party in (not that I’m endorsing the lib dems or tories)!

    • Oh I also forgot about the Council Wardens – Total waste of money on jobsworth! We need proper police who have real powers to deal with criminals

      • Police numbers have fallen across the country with stations being closed in droves. This isn’t the council’s fault it’s down Tory idealism and cost cutting. What we have today ( but no one admits) is a prioritization of services from Police to NHS. The tasks have long overrun the resources available. What we see today are the after effects.

  • Glad to see the number of responses to this post is significant it just goes to prove that as a community we care about our borough. Which is contrary to the opinions of the council and others who tend not live in the area.

    With that in mind I can safely say that the last tweet has hit a nerve.

    Personally I am sick and tired of hearing that old cliché about central government funding cuts

    Yes we are all aware over the last 10 years cuts have been made but the problems with Greenwich and the local police go further back than 10 years.

    Mis-management, neglect, ineptitude, inability, dysfunctionality, stupidity and failure comes to mind every time I walk around Woolwich.

    None of the above attributes has anything to do with funding. As a rule the council only seems to wake up at the annual council tax review, then goes back to sleep for another 11 months.

    If you doubt my assumption

    1 Someone must have been sleeping (on full pay) when they allowed 5 betting shops to open within walking distance of one another and think this is not a recipe for social deterioration.

    2 Note the total mis-management of the Woolwich centre regeneration by RBG. Having spent a significant amount of money on trying (badly I may add) to improve Woolwich shopping centre,someone in their qualified wisdom decided to grant permission for that many betting shops to open. Proving we have strategic environmental planners in RBG who cannot plan to save their lives.

    3 The total ineptitude of the cleaners to maintain the area. To be honest it’s not totally their fault. Someone who is likely not to be on minimum wage decided it was better to lay light coloured paving slabs knowing the high level of foot fall in the area.

    4 With the community police and the REAL police in the area, we still cannot clear the area. What are we paying them for? Plus they are all likely to want overtime pay too!

    5 The total neglect from the councillors and the environmental officers to see the deterioration in the first instance begs belief. This did not happen overnight so where were their focus when the bad elements in the area starting flooding in.

    6 Funding cannot be the only issue or every local shopping area in the country would have the same problems.

    Lastly if we assume that the council is the biggest landlords in the borough the blame can only be laid squarely at RBG for letting what could be a lovely and desirable area to visit deteriorate into a place where the local electorate is crying out for council action and direction. Note a café going about its lawful business has to pay extra in Woolwich to run it’s business safely and the druggies get to commit crime with no fear of the law. What does that say about the council and the police who has stated above are PAID to do a job.

    Remember we electorate voted for the councillors in RBG and thank God we can vote them OUT!

  • Hi
    Following the assault reported by this website on the manager of the coffee shop I was in Woolwich town centre an hour ago and noticed that all of a sudden the group of men isually hanging around outside the Paddy Powers next door has vanished. Could it be they know they police would want to speak to them?

    To pick up on what Disappointed has posted above about the madness of allowing planning applications from so many bookies clustered together, I’ve been trying to look this up and it appears Councils have limited licensing powers. I came across this report (albeit from 2013 so not very up to date,) which says the Gambling Commission is responsible. Does this mean there’s not much the Council can do?
    Still it’s no explanation of why the police don’t use ASBO powers against people causing trouble in the square.

  • Can someone start a let’s make woolwich safer change.org campaign.. ?

    • Crime rate is increasing so much in Greenwich because people like me who has been living there for over 30 years was not know I won award not known because they are armed robbers they lie to me I several ways by housing that I did not bring evidence I used to work for Greenwich direct Council then. Well Is not about change is about how luck I am to have been treated differently. I am an humble person with my family but I know one day they will know it is wrong until that time let karma do justice. Peace and love to all. Just rember it is better to restore things than destroying it. There is no head in Greenwich.

  • I moved to Woolwich from Lewisham about 12 years ago and initially did not like the general atmosphere of the area, the Square or the area near the DLR and felt intimidated. Having never had any trouble whatsoever my concerns were unwarranted. I use the coffee lounge, watched the football on the big screen during the World Cup and love that so many different types and ages of people hang out together. Only one perspective and set of experiences and I’m sorry that the staff and customers of CL have had different ones – such a shame

  • Agree wholeheartedly.
    I can’t think of many places worse on this country.

  • Why are you equating poor with dodgy?


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