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Friday, 8 June 2012

Mother of teen who was stabbed to death launches initiative in which shops will become havens for victims of crime

Islington Tribune

From left, Valerie Flessati, Henoc Girma, Lorraine Dinnegan and Ben Pollard outside the Arsenal store

Published: 8 June, 2012

A UNIQUE scheme in which shops will provide a place of safety for victims of street crime is being launched tomorrow (Saturday) in Finsbury Park by the mother of a 14-year-old boy stabbed to death five years ago.

Lorraine Dinnegan, whose son Martin was murdered by youths in Holloway, will unveil the borough’s first City Safe Haven, in which people in trouble can run to the nearest participating shop or business for sanctuary. Shopkeepers will then immediately lock the door behind them – keeping pursuers out – and call police.

The Tesco branch opposite Finsbury Park station is one of the first outlets to take part and the nearby Arsenal store is also planning to join the scheme, which is backed by street safety campaigners.

As well as Mrs Dinnegan, they include Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, Valerie Flessati, from St Mellitus Church, Henoc Girma, from the Arsenal store, and Ben Pollard, community organiser for North London Citizens.

They will be meeting at the gates of Finsbury Park, opposite Lidl’s store, at 11am tomorrow to officially launch the scheme.

Mrs Dinnegan said that, although there had been a lot of improvements in street safety since her son was murdered, there was still a long way to go.

She added: “This scheme will help people feel that in times of trouble they are not alone. Each participating shop will have a poster and logo so that people are made aware of who is involved.

“There’s a lot more awareness of knife crime since Martin’s death.

The message is getting across thanks to work by the police, Islington Council, churches and community groups.

“But we are still in the early stages of the campaign. Young people have to realise that when they slip a knife into their pockets it is likely that someone is going to die and they will be locked away for a very long time.”

Ms Flessati said that too often high-street shopkeepers did not want to get involved when there was trouble.

“Under this scheme shopkeepers will know what to do and how to act,” she said. “If someone runs into a shop or store for help staff will lock the door and call police. So far we have signed up 12 outlets for the scheme.”

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