The Independent London Newspaper

Armed police swoop on Elthorne estate in Archway

Families forced to remain inside for eight hours as officers lay siege to house

Published: 22nd April, 2011
by PAVAN AMARA

HUNDREDS of residents had to stay in their homes for eight hours on Saturday as armed police laid siege to a house where a man was believed to be holding his girlfriend hostage with a gun.

Police swooped on the Elthorne estate in Archway at 5am, warning residents to stay in their homes, and refused to let anybody in or out of the estate until 1pm. 

A man in his 30s was arrested and taken to Islington police station in Tolpuddle Street on suspicion of committing firearms offences. He was later released without charge.

Ciara Dhillon, 47, who lives in Schofield Road, said there were about 40 police officers positioned throughout the estate. 

“When we asked why they were there with huge guns they said it was none of our business,” she said. “I did get hold of one who told me it was an ‘armed response to a hostage situation’.

“It was silly to cordon off our entire estate with tape, police vans, dogs and guns when the man they wanted was all the way over the other side of the estate.”

She added: “I felt like a kid with the way they treated us. It was all really patronising. 

“To come onto our estate on a Saturday, not tell anyone why you’re there with your big guns, and then go round telling people that they can’t have a smoke, can’t take their kids to play on the green – it’s the whole ‘What I say goes’ attitude that the police have. 

“Then they wonder why people don’t cooperate with them.”

But neighbours living near the siege home praised police. “They were polite and courteous in carrying out their duty,” one said. “It may have annoyed people on the other side, because it wasn’t happening near them yet they all had their Saturdays ruined too. 

“How irritating for people who had to do Saturday shifts at work and all that?”

A friend with an unobstructed view said she prayed no one would be killed as she watched police swarm around her neighbour’s house. 

The woman, who identified herself only as Maria, said: “There was a policeman kneeling, and he was aimed to kill, with his gun pointing straight at the entrance to the house. 

“There was a policeman with a big dog at the front, and around the corners they were dotted around with guns. There were police vans just behind the house.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Lorraine Constantinou, whose offices  are in the estate, said she was pleased nobody was hurt in the course of police carrying out their duty. 

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