Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park, Jacaranda Gardens and a trashed car, March 2002

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

We’ve had another ferret around in our hefty Brixton photo archives and unearthed this collection of snaps taken 15 years ago, back in March 2002. Above can be seen a wheel-bereft stolen car abandoned on Valentia Place.

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

A sign points to the now vanished multi story car park on Station Road. The site is now occupied by the hipster-luring, foodie-grazing ‘community’ confection that is Pop Brixton.

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

Bookmongers, Coldharbour Lane.

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

There were interesting times in Brixton, as Brian Paddick, Commander for the London Borough of Lambeth, adopted a ‘softly softly’ approach to cannabis and took to our sister website urban75 to add his thoughts.  The right wing press swiftly took an interest, which eventually led to Paddick being transferred.

Wikipedia has this summary:

In 2001, as Commander for the London Borough of Lambeth, Paddick started to make postings on London web discussion forum Urban75. According to Paddick’s autobiography, he had initially contacted Urban75 as part of an Internet campaign against the Brixton-based Movement For Justice By Any Means Necessary (MFJ), which was campaigning for justice after the police killing of local Derek Bennett. He also attacked MFJ chairman Alex Owolade who was subsequently sacked from his employment with Lambeth London Borough Council.

At around this time, the national press also began coverage of the pilot cannabis programme in Brixton where officers were instructed not to arrest or charge people who were found to be in possession of cannabis. They were instead to issue on-the-spot warnings and confiscate the drugs. Although Paddick is credited with the idea, the pilot programme was sanctioned by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, Sir John Stevens.

Paddick asserts that he implemented the policy because he wanted his officers to deal with cannabis quickly and informally so that they could concentrate on heroin and crack cocaine offences, and street robbery and burglary, which were affecting the quality of life in Lambeth to a greater extent. “Police officers said they weren’t prepared any longer to drop cannabis down the drain because one of their colleagues had been arrested by internal investigators apparently for doing just that. They were going to arrest everybody they found even with the smallest amount of cannabis. I couldn’t have allowed that to happen. They would have been doing nothing else.”

Critics accused him of being soft on drugs, and the policy became a source of public controversy and debate. The situation worsened when The Mail on Sunday published a false story by his former partner, James Renolleau, that Commander Paddick had used cannabis himself. They also highlighted his homosexuality as a matter of concern, and claimed he was an anarchist based on a comment he had made on Urban75 in January 2002.[See discussion thread] In fact, he had written that “the concept of anarchy has always appealed to me”, but that he was “not sure everyone would behave well if there were no laws and no system.”

Following the controversy, Paddick was transferred to an intelligence position and the allegations were investigated by the Crown Prosecution Service. His transfer led to public rallies in Lambeth in his support. The CPS decided in late 2002 that no charges would be brought. In November 2003, Paddick was promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Territorial Policing. In a December 2003 out-of-court settlement, the Mail on Sunday accepted that their story was false, apologised, and paid damages.

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

An extraordinary community meeting took place in Brixton in support of Paddick. Read more here.

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

Situated near the top of Brockwell Park is this turret clock, a 1897 gift from Sir Charles Ernest Tritton, MP for Norwood.

Repaired in October 2013, the clock is a copy of the one at the Victoria end of Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

Chat about Brockwell Park on the busy Brixton forum.
More about Brockwell Park

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

The magnificent Barrier Block.

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

View from across the tracks.,

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

Situated close to Coldharbour Lane and the former East Brixton railway station was the Brixton Orphanage for Fatherless Girls on 53, Barrington Road. The orphanage provided accommodation for 300 fatherless girls.

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

Jacaranda Gardens cafe/bar. It has since spent time as Hive and more recently hosts the Craft Beer company.

Brixton 15 years ago: Brian Paddick, Brockwell Park and a trashed car, March 2002

Another view of the trashed car.

See more Brixton history:
On this site
On the boards
On the comprehensive urban75 Brixton history archives