MORE than six million people visited the Advertiser's website in 2014, drawn by stories about day-to-day life in Croydon as well as major incidents such as the East Croydon illegal rave, a family's fight to receive "justice" for a critically ill 22-year-old and a double-stabbing at the Whitgift Centre.
As the list at the bottom of this page shows, the big issues of the year attracted tens of thousands of visitors to the site, but what many of those who read the initial reports do not always follow is what happened next. Here we look at some of those stories and how they developed after first making the headlines.
Tackling crime and antisocial behaviour in Croydon town centre has long been a police priority. In recent years those efforts have focused on the borough's homeless community (including Operation 'Loch Derg' which led to 47 arrests and 1,250 alcohol seizures in 2013) particularly since the announcement of Westfield/Hammerson £1 billion regeneration of the Whitgift Centre. The scheme has put the Met under commercial and political pressure to tidy up the town's image, leading to an aborted attempt to shut down the soup kitchen in Queen's Gardens (an equally well-read story in December 2013).
In January this year the police announced a new operation targeting beggars and people who "commit" rough sleeping. They warned anyone with the temerity to be caught sleeping on the streets (which was, as it happened, an increasing number of people) could be given an Asbo. Some 20,000 people read the Advertiser's report, some of whom accused the police and local authorities of trying to criminalise homelessness.
In August, the Met resumed what it called efforts to "target those responsible" for rough sleeping and begging in hot spots across London. A day-long operation led to the sum total of zero arrests in Croydon (figures for the number of banker and politicians questioned or detained were not available) though officers did conduct eight alcohol confiscations; a far cry from the source of major disorder and antisocial behaviour the street community were made out to be by Croydon's - now former - borough commander.
The illegal rave at the Royal Mail delivery depot in Cherry Orchard Road features three times in the Advertiser's top ten most-read stories of 2014. It developed rapidly throughout the evening as crowds of party goers attacked the police when officers tried to close the event down. After being pelted with missiles, including masonry, furniture and fire extinguishers, police decided to form a cordon around the building and let the event continue. The scene the following morning was one of widescale damage to the building and disruption to public transport. More importantly, eight people had been taken to hospital, including 15-year-old Rio Andrew who had fallen ill at the party and collapsed. Tragically, the schoolboy, from west London, died two days later in hospital.
The Advertiser revealed at the time that the police had been aware of the rave before it happened. After an internal investigation the Met announced in September that it would not be taking any disciplinary action against the intelligence officer who failed to act on the information.
The police have so far arrested 28 people on suspicion of committing various offences during the rave, including being involved in organising it. Some were charged with violent disorder and are currently going through the court system. Others were given cautions for possession of Class A or B drugs and criminal damage, while 12 were released without charge.
No one has been arrested for supplying the drugs police suspect killed Rio Andrew. His post mortem was inconclusive and the police have yet to release details of the subsequent toxicology report.
The events were painfully similar to the death of 16-year-old Daniel Spargo-Mabbs, the Archbishop Tenison's pupil who collapsed after taking ecstasy on the way to an illegal rave in Hayes, west London, on January 17.
The dealer who supplied the drugs was jailed for five years in August. Daniel's parents, Fiona and Tim, have since set up the Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation to raise awareness among young people of the danger of drugs. In October its "youth ambassadors", all friends of the schoolboy, took part in their first public event at the Whitgift Centre. After Rio's death, Fiona called on the police to do more to tackle illegal raves.
Our report on a family's plans to protest outside Croydon University Hospital after it refused to treat critically ill father-of-two Marcus Campbell was the most read story on our website in 2014.
They accused doctors of "giving up" on the 22-year-old after he developed a rare inflammation of his brain stem. The hospital said it would not resuscitate him or treat infections he had developed, but added that "reasonable" steps were being taken to care for the former Stanley Technical High pupil in order to "make him as comfortable as possible".
More than 100 people took part in the protest outside the hospital later that evening. Police officers blocked the main entrance to the building as the crowd chanted "Justice for Marcus". The demonstration was organised through the social media campaign set up by the family. The demonstration led the hospital to seek an urgent second opinion from an independent clinician.
A second night of protests followed, and then a march through the town centre to the hospital. The family's concerns were echoed by Steve Reed, MP for Croydon North who said the trust appeared "more concerned about bad publicity than the need for good care".
The case went to the High Court, where a judge upheld the hospital's decision not to resuscitate Marcus if his heart were to stop. The judge did, however, rule that he should be treated for infections and be moved to a specialist facility.
To date the family's petition has been signed by nearly 60,000 people. Marcus remains in a critical condition at Croydon University Hospital which says it is actively trying to find him an alternative place to be treated.
The stabbing of two teenagers, aged 16 and 17, in the Whitgift Centre, the town's most well-known shopping precinct, was one of the most shocking stories of the year, more so because they were attacked by two brothers aged just 14 and 15 -years-old.
Mohammed and Abdul Walker, now 16 and 14 respectively, were part of a group of five or six youths who, totally without provocation, attacked Glodi Mobwano and his 16-year-old friend outside sports nutrition store GNC on January 15.
Glodi, now 18, suffered a punctured kidney after being stabbed in the back and his friend, who cannot be named because of his age, was slashed across the face and knifed in the arm.
Mohammed and Abdul were caught on CCTV running from the scene with their accomplices and getting on a bus and were later arrested.
They stood trial at Croydon Crown Court in November when a jury found both of them guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one of violent disorder.
Judge Kenneth Hamer said they had committed a "serious and wicked act" and jailed each of them for five years in December. He also decided to lift restrictions banning the press from naming them, automatically put in place to protect young defendants, such was the gravity of the offences.
The Advertiser's 15 most-read news stories of 2014 (unique visitors)
- PLEASE SAVE MARCUS: Family to stage protest after Croydon hospital refuses to resuscitate seriously ill young father – 78,649
- Boy, 15, dies after drinking beer laced with ketamine at illegal Croydon rave – 53,538
- Two teenage boys stabbed in Croydon's Whitgift Centre – 45,070
- Illegal rave in former Royal Mail delivery depot in East Croydon – 43,570
- Flood update: Purley Cross underpass to be turned into a pond to keep water away from homes – 33,395
- Croydon gang member and the girl who tried to hide his gun and crack cocaine jailed - 25,699
- Woman dies after falling from Central Shopping Centre in Croydon – 25,090
- Exclusive: Race-hate group's vile Facebook missing child hoax – 25,039
- Former Royal Mail delivery office smashed up during illegal rave – 24,924
- Man and teenager killed in Purley Way boxing day crash horror - 21,969
- First picture of 14-year-old found dead in Thornton Heath - 20,738
- Boy, 16, becomes fifth youth stabbed in Croydon in eight days - 20,361
- Police launch crackdown on people who 'commit' rough sleeping – 20,114
- MP dubbed 'a bit cowardly' after calling police on petitioners - 18,230
- Police search for missing Croydon 12-year-old Chika Anuonye - 17,784
Figures accurate as of December 30, 2014