Inside homeless hostel where man was found dead

Havering councillor Bob Perry outside Abercrombie House

Councillor Bob Perry visited Abercrombie House, Harold Hill, to conduct an unannounced inspection. - Credit: Charles Thomson

A Havering councillor carried out an unannounced inspection this week at a Harold Hill hostel where a man was found dead.

Independent Bob Perry arrived at Abercrombie House with the Recorder and asked for a tour.

Cllr Perry is working with the family of Ken Hill, whose body was discovered at the hostel in January.

His death was attributed to natural causes but heroin was in his system. Relatives say he had no history of heroin use before entering Abercrombie in 2020.

The Met Police wrote in 2019 that it was aware of alleged “drug dealing and consumption” on the site.

“After hearing many stories about problems in Abercrombie House, I decided to pay an unannounced visit to see conditions for myself,” said Cllr Perry.

Ken Hill

Cllr Perry has been helping the family of father and keen fisherman Ken Hill, who was found dead at Abercrombie House in January. - Credit: The Hill family

Two staff members led Cllr Perry and the Recorder on a tour on Monday, October 4.

They said anyone caught with drugs was evicted.

The police “turn up weekly and do a walk-through, just to show a presence,” one worker said. “They come at random times but they come regularly.”

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“Is drug-taking a regular thing?” asked Cllr Perry.

“Not that I’m aware of,” they replied.

The staffer, who had worked there for three months, added: “One of the things that has happened twice, I believe, is we had quite a large police presence and they came with dogs and everything.”

They said that had last happened six to eight weeks ago, but nothing was found.

Cllr Perry said he was impressed by the cleanliness and conditions.

“I am happy to see that many improvements have been put in place and hope the council will continue to keep up the standard I witnessed,” he said.

“There is still, however, unanswered questions surrounding the tragic death of Ken Hill. I will continue working with Ken’s grieving family to get the answers they deserve.”

Bob Perry at Abercrombie House

Cllr Perry and the Romford Recorder were taken on a tour of Abercrombie House on Monday, October 4. - Credit: Charles Thomson

Havering Council said: “While the visit by the Romford Recorder was unplanned, we are pleased that they were able to see first-hand how clean, safe and well-managed Abercrombie House is.

“We have always maintained that we take a robust and zero tolerance approach to drugs on-site, and we’re happy that this was also evident in the Recorder’s visit.

“We remain committed to making our accommodation even better for our most vulnerable residents, and want to ensure that everyone at Abercrombie House and elsewhere in the borough feels safe and comfortable where they live.”

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

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

'Cover-up or terrible mistake?': Family told hostel death inquest will not take place

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