'Heads should roll': Drug dealers left on Romford streets for eight months

Doctor Savage drug dealing texts sent to Ken Hill

Messages were sent to Ken Hill's phone from a drug-dealing service calling itself 'Doctor Savage'. Eight months after police seized the phone, the operation was still running. - Credit: Archant

Drug dealers peddling heroin and crack cocaine are still operating in Harold Hill, eight months after police acquired evidence of their operations.

Last week, the Recorder briefly made contact with the drugs gang – which calls itself Doctor Savage – using the same phone numbers police have had since January.

The numbers had been used to send messages to a phone belonging to Ken Hill, who was found dead in a Havering Council hostel, Abercrombie House, on January 11.

As of last week, the drugs gang said it was still operating less than 500 metres from the hostel.

Havering councillor Bob Perry, who has been working with Mr Hill’s family since May, said “heads should roll” at the Met.

“This is a shocking revelation,” he said. “It’s absolutely appalling that the police have taken no action on this.

“A full investigation must be carried out immediately by the borough commander, to find out what’s going on here.” 

A spokesperson from the Met Police said all information about drug dealing is collated and recorded, with the outcomes of intel in the police's possession "not always immediately apparent" as investigations continue.

Independent Havering councillor Bob Perry

Councillor Bob Perry, who is working with Mr Hill's family, said heads should roll at the Met Police Service, after drug dealers were left to continue operating in Harold Hill for eight months. - Credit: Bob Perry

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The phone

On January 11, the body of Ken Hill was found in a room at Abercrombie House.

As the death was unexplained, the Met Police launched an investigation and seized Ken’s belongings, including his phone.

Ken’s room was strewn with needles, his family said, and heroin and cocaine were later found in his system.

His family say they were initially told by a coroner’s officer that he appeared to have died of a “massive heroin overdose” - although his death certificate has since returned a cause of death as natural causes.

Ken's family said police told them there were text messages about drug dealing on his phone.

The stakeouts

In the meantime, Ken's friends began receiving social media messages raising concerns about drug dealing around Abercrombie House – particularly in Hilldene, near the shopping parade.

They said they staked out the area in cars and verified what they were being told.

They told the Recorder they had contacted police more than 30 times since January to report drug dealing.

Ken Hill on a fishing trip

Ken Hill, who died in Abercrombie House with heroin and cocaine in his system, was a father, brother, son and a keen fisherman. - Credit: The Hill Family

"We don’t want what happened to Ken to happen to anyone else,” they explained.

But, they said, little or nothing appeared to be being done.

Havering Council, which runs Abercrombie House, has offered its "deepest sympathies" to Ken's family, adding:  “Abercrombie House remains a vital shelter for some of the borough’s most vulnerable people, and we are committed to ensuring the safety of residents by continuing to work closely with the police to tackle any reports of drug use swiftly and effectively.”

The texts

Weeks after the Recorder published its first story about the Hill family’s concerns, the authorities claimed Ken had actually died of natural causes.

Last month, police returned his phone to his family.

It was almost completely wiped, but among the surviving data were suspicious text messages from two phone numbers.

“It’s Doctor Savage123,” one message began. “The surgery is open. Come get medication.”

The message offered a “new deal”, then gave a price list for various commodities of W and B.

Ex-police officers at PACE UK, a charity which helps children exploited by county lines drugs gangs, said this is code used by drug dealers.

W stands for white, meaning crack cocaine. B stands for brown, meaning heroin.

The most recent Doctor Savage text message arrived on January 22 – 11 days after police seized Ken’s phone.

The sim card then appears to have been removed – and is now missing.

The call

Last week, the Recorder sent text messages from a company mobile to both Doctor Savage numbers.

“Is the clinic open?” this newspaper asked.

Both numbers replied in under two minutes – one by text, one by phone call.

The man who called offered a meeting place near the hostel.

The Recorder did not attend the meeting, but instead asked the Met how dealers could still be operating in the same area with the same phone numbers eight months after officers got ahold of their contact lines.

The Met

The force has refused to answer questions about Ken Hill’s death, mobile phone, messages found on the device or whether they acted on them.

A spokesperson said: “All information received by police into potential drug dealing and associated locations, phone numbers, etc, is collated and recorded as intelligence to support ongoing efforts to tackle crime, for instance, by officers from the Met’s Violence Suppression Units.

“The outcomes of such information being provided to police are not always immediately apparent as enquiries continue and any associated tactics and operations progress.”

For more, read:

Family seeks answers as police probe dad's death in council hostel

Police called to council 151 times amid drug-dealing concerns