This blog is all that remains from the former website which was closed after 8 years of providing a 'wiki' of urban street gangs in London.

An unfinished history of modern urban street gangs in London has been used to replace some of the content of the original site, beginning here

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Powerful anti-knife crime exhibition is murdered Islington teenager Ben Kinsella’s legacy

Islington Gazette

by Tom Marshall Sunday, September 30, 2012

The family of knife victim Ben Kinsella have opened a powerful exhibition which they say stands as the murdered teenager’s “legacy”.

Ben Kinsella exhibition

Ben’s sister Brooke, the former EastEnders star, his parents George and Deborah and the charity set up in his memory have launched a show designed to help steer schoolchildren away from knife and gang crime.

Titled The Ben Kinsella Trust Knife Crime Awareness Exhibition, it is based at City North in Fonthill Road, Finsbury Park. It is hoped it will make a strong impression on those who might be tempted to pick up a weapon.

On an emotional evening at the launch last Wednesday, Brooke, who became a prominent campaigner following her 16-year-old brother’s death in 2008, spoke of her hopes for what has been years in the making.

The MBE recipient, 29, said: “Basically this is Ben’s legacy. We have worked on this for four years since we lost Ben. We set up the trust but we didn’t want to rush.
Ben Kinsella exhibition

“Our aims are education and prevention. We think you need to get in as early as possible to show kids the consequences.

“We hope that if a young person who comes here ever gets to the point where they think about picking up that knife, they will think back to what they have seen and make a different choice.”

Many primary and secondary schools in Islington are already signed up for tours, with 36 Year Five children from New North Academy in Popham Road, Islington, the first to visit.

It runs until March and is due to welcome more than 300 children a week – aged from nine to 16.

George said: “It’s a legacy for our son Ben’s murder. We hope it will change kids’ minds when carrying knives and dangerous weapons.”

Youngsters are taken through a series of rooms featuring artwork by Ben, a Holloway School pupil who was an aspiring graphic designer, stories from people who have been affected by knife crime, and even a remarkable piece of creative writing by Ben imagining his own knife death written just months before he died.

The centrepiece is a cinema room where a film intersperses the attack in New North Road, Holloway, taken from CCTV, with Ben’s family speaking openly about their loss and the moment when they learned he had been stabbed.

Mr Kinsella added: “It’s very hard to see the exhibition. Every time any of our family walk around, it brings it back as if it was yesterday.”

Visitors are also ushered into a mock-up of a cell where an actor plays a young man locked up on “joint enterprise” grounds – simply because he was with his “mates” when they stabbed someone.

Ben’s mother Deborah said: “It’s very emotional, we have all been working hard for the last three years. We believe Ben left us a legacy to help keep other children safe.”

Friday, 28 September 2012

Gritty film GBH is a reflection of a London still healing from the riots


Lizzie Edmonds
Friday, September 28, 2012
11:54 AM
“Police are just people – they don’t know how to fix a broken city.”

So says the director of gritty British film GHB, a harrowing depiction of a betrayed generation, the authorities and of a city shaken by unprecedented violence.

Just over a year ago London was hit by some of the worst riots this country has ever witnessed. Scenes of billowing smoke, people looting the high streets and police cordons reached our screens as a stunned nation watched on in disbelief. No one could have anticipated that the death of 28-year-old Mark Duggan would have hit upon a raw rage that ran through countless communities, eventually sparking anarchy across the biggest cities in the UK.

In just over a week, three people were killed, 14 were injured and countless homes and livelihoods destroyed.
Now, following a ‘feel good’ summer with the London 2012 Games, to the untrained eye the city is virtually unrecognizable.

“The anniversary of the riots was brushed under the carpet a little bit because of the Olympics,” actress Kellie Shirley, from Croydon, tells me whilst discussing her role as policewoman Louise in thriller GBH, set against the background of the violence.

“As a Londoner, I definitely have an affiliation with the riots. They have become such a seminal piece of our history and we will talk about them and their effect forever. That’s why I was drawn to the film.”

Created by a cast and crew of Londoners, GBH follows police officer Damien, who has a tainted past. A complex and far from likeable character, he was once a member of a vicious football gang known for their particular thirst for violence and intimidation. After years in a desolate existence, he joins the force to use his inner anger against the life he hated so much.

But with his former friends using his position as a way to avoid the law, things are far from easy, especially when he becomes involved with his colleague Louise, who has been led to the force by a family tragedy. Through their disillusioned eyes, we watch an angered generation mobilize with truly unexpected consequences.

“It is a very real film,” explains Nick Nevern, who plays lead character Damien. “It draws on so many issues that effect us all every day.”

And, for the creators of the film, it was the stark realism of August last year that provided a unique inspiration for the piece.

“I was sitting at home one night watching everything unfold on TV when I got a call from Simon [Phillips], the director of the piece,” recalls GBH’s producer Jonathan Sothcott.

“He just said to me – ‘I’ve got a great idea for a movie: let’s go out and catch some of what’s happening.’ So we took to the streets to try and capture it.

“It was a real ‘eureka’ moment for him.”

Simon, who filmed GBH in three weeks, takes over the story: “When we were filming, we asked teenagers as young as 14 if they knew who Mark Duggan was, whose death was the true reason for them being there. Not one knew who he was.

“It was then that it really struck home: we have robbed these young people of their jobs, their hope, everything. And that was why they were there.

“They didn’t have anything to lose: so what if they got a criminal record? They can’t get a job anyway. They had no respect for their surroundings or the authorities.”

Across the country, the public’s distrust of the police is more apparent than ever. In the past month, the release of the Hillsborough Report has condemned the South Yorkshire force for their failures and cover-ups from 23 years ago and left many contemplating the role of those employed to protect us.

Simon says: “When I was young, my parents told me to go and tell a police man if there was anything wrong. Now, for many children, they’d be the last people they’d call upon. It is certainly an issue that we explore in the film.”

But, as always, there are two sides to everything.

Simon continues: “London is broken. But the police don’t know how to fix things. They are just people, doing their job. They are no different to anyone else. They just wear a uniform.”

With the tragic deaths of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in Manchester still in the nation’s mind, the message that police officers are just people doing their job could not be more prevalent. Indeed, the film couldn’t be released at a more opportune time.

“It’s almost as though art is imitating life in some strange way.” Nick says.

But with such tragedy occurring only weeks ago and the riots still a raw for those it hurt the most, was the director ever concerned the piece was a little too soon?

“We never wanted to be exploitative of the riots, that’s not what the piece is about,” Simon says. “It’s more or a reflection on a broken London and a disillusioned society with no one really sure how to fix it.”

Bleak? Perhaps. But a thought provoking and moving piece release that has been released at a particularly poignant time. And that is why the film is well worth watching. It asks you to reflect upon a London that is currently awash with the Olympic spirit and a London that - only a year ago - was on a knife-edge.

GBH is out on limited released in cinemas today and on DVD from Monday, October 1.

Black History Month set to focus on young people's achievements

Islington Tribune
Published: 28 September, 2012

A DOCUMENTARY made by 20 Islington youngsters and an award-winning film-maker will be one of the highlights of a slimline Black History Month in October.

Aisha Forbes, of the Islington BME Forum, said that this year they were focusing the celebration of black history on young people with fewer, more high-profile events.

The Importance of Black History will be shown at Kings Place in York Way on October 23. It is an exploration of black history, asking whether it is under-represented in mainstream education.

Made by Nosa Igbinedion and Islington young people, it asks whether black history is really world history, and will be followed by a question and answer session.

Other events include a talk by author Jacob Whittingham who will be reading from his new book, What Being Black is and What Being Black Isn’t, at Islington Green Waterstones on October 11.

The UK premiere of the film Hoodwinked will also be shown at Kings Place on October 30.

For more information visit

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Grieving mother writes open letter to the uncaptured killer of her son

Lorraine King Kilburn Times
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Daniel Ross was gunned down in Scala nightclub in King’s Cross

"We hope Daniel’s face haunts your dreams. We hope you can still see his face during the day. We hope you’ve told someone and, yes, we know other people know what you’ve done."

Jean Ross, Daniel’s grieving mother

The mother of a man gunned down on a packed dance floor six years ago has written an open letter to the killer who continues to be shielded by a wall of silence.

Jean Ross’s 22-year-old son Daniel, a father-of-two from Kilburn, was shot in the head in Scala nightclub in King’s Cross on September 24, 2006.

His cold-blooded killer swaggered on to the dance floor, pulled the trigger before evading capture by mingling with the fleeing clubbers.

Despite being murdered in front of hundreds of people the gunman is still walking the streets leaving Mrs Ross, her family and friends with no closure.
Jean Ross has written a letter to her son's killer

Detectives from Operation Trident, the Met’s team that investigates gun crime, have offered a £20,000 reward for the capture of his killers and made a television appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme to no avail.

In June an appeal was published in Inside Time, a national newspaper for prisoners, but detectives are still no closer to find Mr Ross’s killer.

In the letter which Mrs Ross asked the Islington Gazette to publish she said: “The story of my son’s death has been told over and over during the past six years.

“Our family has seen bits of evidence unfold before our eyes but powerless to piece together enough to get you convicted - this is because you are a coward using the shelter of a wall of silence like a mask.
Daniel with his father Ivor Ross

“You believe time is on your side, but one day your name will be revealed because God does not sleep.

“We hope Daniel’s face haunts your dreams. We hope you can still see his face during the day. We hope you’ve told someone and, yes, we know other people know what you’ve done.

“We have nothing but contempt for you and the people who are shielding you.

“Time is a master and one day it will be your disaster.

“You have watched on TV and read in the newspapers about our anguish but you do nothing.

“You evil coward! Hell on earth is too good for you, but this will be your fate unless you repent and reveal the truth.”

Mrs Ross’s anguish is worsened by the fact that her son’s friend’s fled the scene leaving him to die in the arms of a stranger.

She said: “A stranger stepped forward to help my son because his friends were the first to run. I am so grateful to that person as it meant the world to me to know he was not alone.

“Someone knows who killed Daniel. It’s time to break the silence – by shielding his killer they are condoning his actions.’”

Anyone with information should call 020 8733 4704 or 4648 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Former Carshalton gang leader Justin Rollins talks prison, crime and turning his life around

This is Local London 26th September 2012

A former gang leader who turned his back on crime has written a book about his days as a young offender.

Justin Rollins, 28, grew up in Carshalton and started his own graffiti-writing gang which turned to violent street crime.

As the level of violence increased Mr Rollins behaviour became more unpredictable and at the age of 18 he attacked two men with a meat cleaver on the London Underground.

The book, My crazy days as a young offender, describes his time in a young offender’s institutions as well as doing time in prison with some of the most infamous prisoners in the UK.
He said: "This is about my young years spent in prisons and young offender’s institutions, being really unwell mentally and having survived on the local streets.

"At 18 I was thrown in to prison with some of the most notorious prisoners in the country.

"They release you from prison and expect you to fit in with other ordinary people but it’s not like that - prison damages people.

"I wasn’t well mentally - I wasn’t the person I am today. I was seriously messed up and damaged.

"I was literally sleeping in Sutton bus garage.

"Then in one incident when I was outside Love2Love in Sutton it made me question my life.
"I started to realise the error of my ways and I went on to write my first book."

After his wake-up call Mr Rollins began to see a counsellor who helped him address the reasons for his violent behaviour and helped him come to terms with his past.

He wrote a book The Lost Boys, A Dark Side of Graffiti which looked back over his life growing up in Carshalton.

His new book, My crazy days as a young offender, focuses on his life from the age of 18 to 28.

Mr Rollins now lives in Tooting Broadway, he has turned his back on crime and does not drink. He wants to be a good role model for his daughter and is pursuing a career as an author.

For more information visit

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

What do you say when the police stop you? This is what you should say

What do you say when the police stop you? This is what you should say (you must not be doing anything wrong, or committing a crime)

'Hello, what is your name please?'

'Good day to you officer'. (You say this first as you come in peace - have your iPhone or portable HD camera ready and film them for your own protection)

'I asked what is your name? Name and address please?'

'Am I obliged to give you my name officer?'

'Yes we're the Police'

'Is that a lawful request or a 'legal request officer?' (If it's lawful they need to tell you what law you've broken) (If it's a legal - which is an 'act' you say you don't stand under 'acts'. Acts ARE NOT laws and it needs YOUR consent to come into force) REMEMBER NO CONSENT = NO COMPLY.

If the police say 'do you understand?' never say yes - they use legalise and turn around the words - so if you answer yes I understand - you have now contracted with them and 'stand under' their authority - meaning that you come under them. What you are supposed to say is 'No I do NOT stand-under that authority'.

Now you can still not consent to giving Police any info - they will either let you go - or they can arrest you - if they do arrest you, say NOTHING, sign NOTHING and say you are getting arrested ON DURESS AND THREAT.

They will probably keep you in cells for few hours, but they will then come to their senses that you're not a criminal and this was a complete waste of time.

After you can sue them for kidnap and false imprisonment.

What happened when a City wealth manager hired a council estate boy with no A-levels

Evening Standard

Hidden talent: Raihan Sadiq, right, now works full-time for James Goodchild at Westbury Private Clients

David Cohen

25 September 2012
The employer’s story

James Goodchild typically hired only the brightest Oxbridge graduates for his boutique wealth management business in the City. His company, Westbury Private Clients, employs just 14 people who manage funds of £225 million for high net-worth individuals, and he had never taken on an apprentice — let alone an employee who failed to finish secondary school.

But two years ago Mr Goodchild read an article about a City Gateway apprentice who had joined RBS amid rising youth unemployment and he decided to take a risk. “I thought maybe I would discover some hidden talent, so I called City Gateway and before I knew it they had sent me three young candidates to interview,” he said.

All three candidates had researched the firm well, he said, but one of them — Raihan Sadiq — stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Mr Goodchild said: “He told me about his love of calligraphy and that his work had been admired by Prince Charles in an exhibition. I saw how skilled he was and that he knew what it was to be excellent at something, and I thought his attention to detail would stand him in good stead.”

He offered Raihan an apprenticeship starting in January last year.

“His first job was to make tea and do basic admin,” recalled Mr Goodchild. “I took him under my wing and taught him about equity markets, bond markets and hedge funds. He arrived knowing nothing but proved a quick learner. We put him in charge of recording our market data and managing our website and social media.”

Mr Goodchild, 33, could not be more different from Raihan — he has a masters in finance, is married with two children and lives in a well-to-do village near Stansted, whereas Raihan, 19, comes from a council estate in the East End — yet the two men formed a strong bond. Mr Goodchild said: “Raihan impressed me with his drive and can-do attitude. He is a team player who gets on with everyone — and he turned out to be very talented at IT.”

After three months, he decided to offer Mr Sadiq a full-time job as an assistant fund manager in charge of their website with a package worth more than £15,000 a year.

“It’s just the start,” he said. “If Raihan gets some CISI [Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment] exams under his belt, the sky is the limit: he could be earning £50,000 in five years and £100,000 by his late twenties.”

Initially, said Mr Goodchild, he hired Raihan as an act of social responsibility, willing to put up with him for a few months if things didn’t work out, but there was a moment when things turned round and the new apprentice became a value-for-money, indispensable asset to the business.

“This is a lad who came to us with two GCSEs and zero A-levels, and who has broken the mould of what it takes to get ahead in finance,” he said.

“My message to other employers is to go for it. Just do it! There’s a lot of prejudice against people from council estates with challenging backgrounds like Raihan, but the youth of today are an untapped resource and it’s up to us employers to give them a chance. People like Raihan add a unique dynamism to our team. I feel hugely vindicated for taking him on.”

The apprentice’s story

When Raihan Sadiq left school with just two GCSEs, the “elders” on his estate in Stepney gave him some career advice. “You have three options,” they told him. “You can sell drugs for the estate’s ‘alternative pharmacy’. You can do credit card scams. Or you can hotwire cars.”

“These guys were five years older than me, they drove Porsches and wore Gucci and they said I could make 10 grand a month,” said Mr Sadiq. “For a 16-year-old with no qualifications like myself, and living in a household where no one worked, it was tempting. Some of my mates jumped in. All that kept me from doing it was the thought of how upset my mum would be.”

After trying for jobs and getting knocked back, Raihan was drawn to an advert at his youth club from a group called City Gateway that said: “Earn and learn at the same time”.

In June 2010, he decided to try their pre-apprenticeship training in IT with English and maths — it turned out to be the best decision he ever made.

Born in London to parents who spoke little English and of Bangladeshi descent, Raihan had done well in primary school — getting level 6 for Sats, two levels above the national average and top of his class — before falling in with the wrong crowd in high school. “I got into truancy and gang fights, so leaving school was a relief,” he said. “At City Gateway, the tutors treated us like adults. I realised that there was no future in hanging around people who got into trouble with the police.”

Two of his schoolfriends would end up in prison, and a third was stabbed to death this summer. It left Raihan quite shaken. “That could have been me,” he said. “Make no mistake, City Gateway changed my life. They taught me simple skills that most people take for granted — how to present myself at interview, to be confident, to say what I think and be who I am.”

After seven months with City Gateway, they sent him to an interview for an apprenticeship at Westbury Private Clients. His charm, and hard work, paid off. They took him on. “I was very nervous. I didn’t have a clue what equities or bonds were but my boss James Goodchild gave me booklets and I started reading the Financial Times every day. I became a sponge.

“James was my mentor and taught me everything I know. When he offered me a full-time contract after three months, I have never signed a piece of paper so quickly. I couldn’t stop shaking his hand. I couldn’t believe somebody like him saw potential in somebody like me. I called my mum to tell her and she cooked me my favourite meal of lamb chops masala to celebrate.

“Before I worked at Westbury, I didn’t have any proper clothes and I had never been on holiday. Now I have three suits, eight ties and 10 shirts, and I have just come back from a week in Cyprus with my mates. I paid for my cousin to come along as his birthday present — it was our first proper holiday and it was brilliant!”

Mr Sadiq’splan is to save up for a car and to study for a financial CISI qualification. “When I show my mates my business cards, they are like, ‘look at you all slick and classy’. But they are happy for me. They think I must be a financial genius but really I just knuckled down. I still find it hard to believe how my life has changed. I have a future because of City Gateway, and because somebody like James took a chance on me.”
How our campaign works...

Taking on apprentices is simple. You would:

* Be provided with a shortlist of suitable candidates to interview.

* Take on each apprentice for one year (if you can only manage part of a year, City Gateway will “buddy you up” with another employer).

* Have them work for you for at least 30 hours a week.

* Release them for one day a week to complete their NVQ Intermediate or Advanced training.

* Be provided with ongoing support by City Gateway.

Is there a sweetener?

The Government may give you a £1,500 grant, provided that you have 1,000 employees or fewer and have not taken on an apprentice in the last year. City Gateway will do all the paperwork to make it easy.

What will it cost you?

You are required to pay the national apprentice wage of £2.60 an hour, although we encourage the London living wage of £8.30 or the national minimum wage of £6.08. You can employ an apprentice directly from City Gateway, or City Gateway can pay the apprentice and invoice you. The annual pre-tax cost per apprentice, if you are eligible for the £1,500 grant, is approximately: £2,500 at pay of £2.60/hr; £8,000 at pay of £6.08/hr; £11,000 at pay of £8.30/hr.

How do you get an apprentice?

To get the ball rolling, click on or
More on our Ladder for London campaign:

Take on an apprentice and help beat youth unemployment

Eddie's story: The human dynamo who turns young tearaways into valued City workers

Paula's story: ‘I was angry, desperate and out of control ... now I’m on top of the world thanks to City Gateway’

Monday, 24 September 2012

Detectives reach new heights in Thusha appeal fund

24 September 2012
The police team that investigated the shooting of Thusha Kamaleswaran have this weekend completed the Three Peaks Challenge to boost the trust fund they set up for her.

Thusha was just five-years-old when on 29 March 2011, whilst happily playing in her uncle's Stockwell shop, she was shot by gang members who had chased a rival into the store.

The little girl's heart stopped twice and emergency surgery was performed to save her life. Sadly she has been left paralsyed by her injuries and requires around the clock care.

Touched by Thusha's bravery and horrified by the CCTV footage showing the moment she was shot, the team, who usually investigate gang related murders, vowed to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England and Snowdon in Wales to raise funds for her future.

The idea of taking on the Three Peaks Challenge was the brainchild of team typist Chris Andreou who set about recruiting the 12 detectives and three members of police staff who eventually took on the gruelling challenge.

Chris said: "Initially we were hoping to raise £5,000 so that we could buy Thusha her own specially adapted bicycle. We were then completely shocked and delighted when, thanks to the support and generosity of the public, not only have we already been able to purchase the cycle but have just under £180,000 left over which has been placed in a trust fund for Thusha's future."

Publicity following the convictions of three men in March prompted people from all over the country to donate to Thusha's fund. One anonymous donor gave £15,000, others held charity events and some offered dance enthusiast Thusha opportunities to attend shows as the guest of honour.

Key members of the investigation took part in the challenge which was completed in just over 28 hours in extreme weather conditions including fog and snow.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Redmond, who was the investigating officer on the case, said: "The image of her dancing happily and then lying lifeless made us want to help.

"Seeing what Thusha and her family have gone though just made us want to do something for her. She was a totally innocent victim. The impact this has had on her family, the nature of Thusha's injuries and her age has really made this different from other cases we've dealt with.

"She is such a brave little girl. She is always smiling and is so positive even when she is in pain."

As part of the complex investigation the team seized some 700 hours of CCTV from 150 cameras. One officer, Detective Sergeant Richard Williamson painstakingly watched each portion of CCTV over 100 times in order to present to the jury detailed evidence of the defendants' clothing and movements in the run-up to the day of the shooting, the day itself and the day after.

Richard said: "Chris was the driving force behind the challenge and for me taking part was a chance in a lifetime. The generosity that people have shown has completely blown us away. It is amazing that some of the money has already gone towards making Thusha's life easier. If we are able to get to £200,000 that would be great."

Detective Constable John Codd was the family liaison officer for Thusha and her family. John said: "It was amazing to be part of the Three Peaks Challenge and to know that it will help Thusha on her route to a better quality of life since she was shot. If the money we have raised and continue to raise helps her to gain more confidence and freedom through purchasing equipment she needs to maintain as normal a life as possible, then every step has been worth it."

Donations can be made to the 'Thusha Appeal Fund' held at the HSBC Bank, 5 Wimbledon Hill Road, London SW19 7NF. The account number is: 12239108 and the sort code: 40-07-30.

Donations can also be made via Paypal.

For further information about the challenge and how to donate, visit:

Friday, 21 September 2012

'I tried working for charities... they sell you dreams of a job but then don't do nothing to help'

The young men of Hackney’s riot-hit Pembury Estate lack the role models and education to help them find work. They told the Standard of their feelings of anger and frustration

Evening Standard Richard Godwin

21 September 2012

The Pembury Estate in Hackney usually makes the headlines for the wrong reasons. Last summer, at the height of the riots, residents watched as a crowd of about 300 barricaded their mansion blocks with burning debris. It was here that a police car, containing a policeman, was set on fire. This is the home of the Pembury Boys, one of London’s most notorious gangs.

Speak to the young residents and there are a lot of things that they are unhappy about. But all their problems — from troubled police relations to their own feelings of helplessness — are really symptoms of unemployment. If middle class university graduates cannot find jobs, imagine what it’s like if you grew up here.

“Most of the time, people don’t even want your CV,” said Cain, a bright, articulate 20-year-old, who was once told that his BTEC in media studies might get him somewhere. “I’ve tried for apprenticeships. I’ve tried to do projects with charities. I’ve been doing voluntary work. They’ve been telling me: ‘If you work on this, then we’ll get you a job.’ They sell dreams — but when it comes down to it, they don’t do nothing to help.”

Cain, bored and frustrated, is typical of the young men here. He did want to work in the media but now he is no longer fussy. Any job will do. “There’s thousands like me,” he said. “Out of all the people that I grew up with, I don’t know anyone that’s in a steady job. A couple have got maybe a little job in retail, but no one’s building a career for themselves. It’s not like they sold it to us in school. Get your grades, build a career, life’s going to be good. It’s a lie. A lot of people round here are living day-to-day. You can’t really think about the future. You’re thinking: How am I going to eat?”

So soon after the Olympics were supposed to help regenerate Hackney, there is little to cheer on an autumn night in the Pembury. We gather around a bench in the children’s playground, surrounded on all sides by the same looming buildings. Another youth walks past, and seeing me, hisses at Cain and his friends for “snitching”. But they want to talk.

“Right now, the Government is just making rich people richer and poor people poorer,” said Kevin, 18. Daniel, 20, thought that the Olympics might provide opportunities in construction. “That’s my thing. I’ve applied for the jobs. I’ve got the qualifications that they’ve been asking for on the ads — but they haven’t got back to me. I don’t see any reason.”

Cain had similar hopes for London 2012. He applied for SIA security training through the government-backed Free 2 Learn scheme (“the worst-run organisation in Britain”). After three months of waiting for his certificate, the opportunity passed.

“I finally got onto the course and then they told us that the Army would be doing all the jobs. Because [the security contractor G4S] didn’t recruit enough staff. That’s the whole reason I started the course. It’s a joke, man.” Cain refers to a lot of things as a “joke”. “How much did we spend on the Olympics? Nine billion? When you’ve got so much poverty in a first world country, that’s too much.”

The laughter, falling round the playground, sounds dark and hollow.

They all feel that education ill-equipped them for work. Daniel says his first school, Homerton, was like a jail. “Look what their youths grow up to be — murderers.” And when he moved to Lammas School in Waltham Forest he learned even less. “There it was just copying — it wasn’t really learning. They’d put all the answers on the board.”

CAIN agrees. He briefly lived with his mother in New Zealand and was shocked at how far behind he was by their standards. “I’m not confident in my writing, or in maths. I should have been taught these things. In other places they’re learning these things.” He now worries about how to put a CV together. “I don’t even know what it’s supposed to look like.”

There are organisations trying hard to help. Cain has secured an interview for a security job through the Hackney Council for Voluntary Services. The Peabody Trust has an onsite Digital Learning Centre which helped 15 young people (16-24-year-olds) from the estate into work last year.

However, the endemic problem is the fact that there are few people they can call on informally for advice, in the way young middle class people take for granted.

“The only older people we see here are the ones that have turned to drugs, or alcoholics,” said Cain. “They’re still here from 15 years ago, doing exactly the same thing: fighting and chatting s**t. Say there were people here with good jobs, earning good money — do you think any of the young ones would want to turn to crime?”

His own father died when he was young. “To this day, I don’t have a male in my life who I’ve watched building anything, who has gone down the right road and it’s paid off for him. We’re just out here, watching each other.”

“That’s why most of these kids turn to drugs,” added Kevin. “Drugs does more for people than jobs do.”

They are reluctant to talk about crime — “every time this estate’s in the media, it’s always crime, crime, crime” — but even for those who are determined to avoid the drugs gangs, a criminal record is easy to come by. They show me camera-phone footage of a police raid the night before, during which Kevin was arrested.

He protests his innocence. “Everything had been calm, everyone was just chilling. Now I’ve got a court case for assault. This is why it’s hard to get jobs. People come down here looking for a reaction. They get a reaction — we get a criminal record.”

Kevin is the most qualified of the group. He counts himself lucky to have been to Mossbourne, regarded as a model inner-city school, where he got an A-level in business studies. He hopes to build a career in business or banking, but in the meantime, he is “90 per cent sure” of securing a job at a branch of Costa Coffee. Now he is worried that his court case will put even that small opening under threat.

“I’m worried that anything in my future will be under threat, to be honest. One criminal charge can give a bad impression, and they won’t know the full story. I just don’t want it to f**k up my life.”

“I do think it’s a trap here. Everyone ends up going to jail,” added Daniel.

I ask what it would take to get them out of that trap.

“If they went into estates, showed youths avenues out of there, apprenticeships,” said Cain. “If the Government even went to companies and said ‘We want this many placements’ this year. If they helped just one person, there probably would be a bit of hope.”

He becomes agitated, addressing my Dictaphone directly: “Please get us a job!” The others laugh. He is sincere. “If employers are out there, looking for some hard workers, come down to Pembury Estate. Let the youth know that you’ve got jobs going. Trust me, you’ll get as many good workers as you need. Everyone round here wants to do better.

“They want to work, they want to provide for their families, they want to leave. No one wants to be on benefits for the rest of their lives.”

Some names have been changed

Monday, 17 September 2012

'Police knew there would be trouble. Now Ronnie is dead'

Family of man gunned down at a gang member's funeral accuse Metropolitan Police of 'failing after failing'


The family of a man shot dead at the funeral of a reputed young gang member has accused Scotland Yard of a series of failings after learning that police had been warned about a potentially violent turf dispute.

Azezur Khan, 21, known to family and friends as Ronnie, was shot dead while attending the funeral, despite the Metropolitan Police receiving intelligence warnings of a potential armed clash between two feuding south London gangs. Officers did not attend, despite a request from the family of the man being buried.

Mr Khan was killed as he left the funeral of Joel Morgan, a friend from school days, on 3 November last year. Mr Morgan had died the previous month in a car crash.

Mr Morgan was a known member of the GAS Gang, based in Lambeth, which had a history of tensions with the neighbouring Peckham Young Guns. The GAS Gang has been blamed for a number of attacks.

Mr Morgan's mother, Carlene Brookes, had requested a police presence at the funeral because of concerns that her son's grave would be attacked, as the burial was taking place on the rival gang's patch.

A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found that intelligence was not properly checked, warnings were not passed on and officers wrongly assumed that other colleagues were doing certain work. The failings meant that no plan was put in place to police the burial.

One officer had claimed that Mr Morgan's mother had not wanted any police presence at the funeral.

Mr Khan's family said yesterday that a police presence at the burial could have saved his life.

"It seems like there is failing after failing," said his brother Pinto, 29, at the family's south London home.

"Different departments were not passing on messages. It's not good enough. Someone needs to be held accountable for all the mistakes that have happened."

The IPCC said it was clear mistakes had been made but they did not amount to misconduct by any single officer. The force has agreed to arrange a meeting with the family after the watchdog said police should acknowledge the mistakes.

Mr Khan's friends told his family that he had become emotional as he stood graveside and left the main body of mourners to get a drink from a parade of shops, where he was killed. Detectives from Scotland Yard's specialist gun and gang crime unit have no information to suggest why he would have been targeted. A 17-year-old was also shot and wounded.

Two suspects were seen fleeing the scene. Seven people have been arrested in connection with the shooting and two teenagers remain on bail on suspicion of murdering Mr Khan. Nobody has been charged.

Mr Khan's father, Mohammed, 54, said his son had no connections with gangs but was a religious young man and respected mentor to children at their mosque. "We are all suffering, we are all in a nightmare," he said.

The IPCC report, seen by The Independent, said that Scotland Yard received intelligence of possible trouble between the two gangs several days before the funeral.

Mrs Brookes told officers from Surrey Police – who were investigating the car crash in which her son died – that she feared trouble.

An officer assigned to the case did not recognise the significance of the cemetery's location in East Dulwich. Initial intelligence reports indicated that there was a "low threat to life" from gang tensions. One officer said they did not plan any overt presence at the funeral because of "community tensions", the IPCC report said.

The IPCC Commissioner, Sarah Green said that while mistakes were made "it is not possible to conclude whether this tragedy could have been prevented".

Scotland Yard said that the IPCC had found no evidence of criminal behaviour or disciplinary matters.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Action group report 181 gang-related crimes in Haringey last year

Tottenham Journal

by Tim Lamden Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A group set up to tackle the problem of gangs in Haringey has reported 181 gang-related crimes in the borough over the last year.

The multi-agency Gang Action Group, a sub-group of Haringey Council’s Community Safety Partnership, gave an overview of their work over the last 18 months during a meeting of the council’s Communities Scrutiny Panel last night.

During the meeting, the group revealed that in the last financial year the hotspot for gang crime was the Noel Park area, with GBH, ABH and robbery accounting for the vast majority of the 181 incidents.

It was also revealed that Haringey has a total of 11 gangs and one organised criminal network.

The group has received almost £250,000 in funding from the Mayor of London’s office, which defines Haringey as one of 16 “gang boroughs” in London.

In addition to carrying out a number of projects in local schools, the group work directly with young people involved in gangs who have been referred to them for intervention plans.

When asked what is being done to prevent youths entering gangs in the first place, Det Supt Stephen Clayman, chairman of the Gang Action Group, told the meeting: “I’m not saying it’s easy work because it’s not. There are a number of parents who don’t actually realise that there child is in a gang lifesyle.

“The earliest intervention has to be at primary school. There are some very good south London projects we are looking at.”

Addressing Gangs in Haringey Presentation (Haringey Council)
Breakdown of spend on addressing gangs in Haringey (Haringey Council)

More about Haringey 'Gangs Action Group'

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

New Addington boxing coach: 'We are trying to turn the estate's reputation around'

Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Croydon Advertiser

A BOXING coach has hit back at critics of the area he grew up in, saying "if you don't treat people like animals they won't act like them".

Last week, the Advertiser reported how online publication The Week had criticised New Addington, labelling it an "impoverished ghetto" populated by "illiterate" people.

John Behan runs the Steel Gym in New Addington

Now John Behan, who runs the Steel Gym, has spoken out, claiming it is not just The Week which has a bad impression of the estate.

He said: "We get it everywhere. And it is something we are trying to turn around. People are generally good around here."

Mr Behan said he faced what he deemed "New Addington discrimination" by the police recently.

He took several of his young boxers on a night out to watch the David Haye fight last month at the Bar Sports venue in the town centre.

And he said as soon as officers knew they were going down there, they were on the offensive straight away.

"We organised a club night out, that was it," he said.

"But the police heard we were a boxing club from New Addington and deployed extra officers and were stationed by the bar.

"It was unnecessary, they even had a portable holding cell ready to arrest anyone if they kicked off.

"No one did though. We had a great night and, in the end, the officers got so frustrated they told one of my members off for just popping a balloon, saying it was noisy.

"The doorman told me he had been warned about me. They said I used to be an unlicensed boxer and that I was coming down with a lot of friends, but it just proved New Addington isn't all bad."

Mr Behan believes it is time his neighbourhood had a more favourable image and says the positive side of New Addington was reflected in its reaction to the death of schoolgirl Tia Sharp.

He said: "There is a lot of good here.

"We held a minute's silence in the wake of Tia's death. We went around Croydon and bought up all the lanterns and handed them out to residents for free when the community came together to remember her."

"I grew up in The Coppins. I got a scholarship to Trinity and run my own club, and my sister is now a priest in charge of her own parish."

Mr Behan added: "You cannot generalise.

"If you don't treat people like animals they won't act like them."

Monday, 3 September 2012

Gangs crackdown cuts youth violence

Evening Standard

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said the crackdown on gangs is part of the force's Total Policing approach

03 September 2012

Serious violence among young people in the capital is falling since a crackdown on gangs was launched just over six months ago, police said.

Scotland Yard said serious youth violence was down by 34%, equating to 1,000 fewer victims, since the launch of the Trident Gang Crime Command in February.

Knife injuries involving those under 25 have reduced by 29%, and the number of times a gun has been fired has dropped by 21%.

The unit was set up to spearhead a renewed and long-term approach to tackling gangs and officers have been engaged in proactive and targeted operations to tackle and disrupt gang activity.

Since April, more than 1,500 known gang members have been arrested, many of them charged with serious offences, and 125 weapons taken off the streets across London, a Yard spokesman said.

He added: "We have also worked with partners to divert young people away from joining gangs and becoming involved in gang crime by supporting them into a number of schemes such as mentoring, how to gain employment, substance misuse programmes and help with housing issues."

Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "We know gangs are responsible for a lot of violent crime which is why the work of this Command is so important. It is early days but it seems this dedicated team is making a difference in tackling gang crime. It is part of our Total Policing approach. There is more to come."

Commander Steve Rodhouse, Gangs and Organised Crime, said: "We have been working hard with our communities and partners to tackle gang crime and divert young people from getting involved.

"We are never complacent and there is still much to do. We always said that this was a long-term commitment to deal with a difficult and embedded issue. We are working continuously to create a hostile environment for offenders, gang members and those who support them and their criminal activity. We will continue to build better intelligence pictures and the central teams will proactively work in tandem with boroughs, arresting and targeting those individuals responsible for crime."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "By cracking down on gang activity we are successfully bringing down knife and gun-related crimes. There is no place in our city for youth violence and we are doing everything possible to stop young people being lured into criminal networks. It will take the continued efforts of the police and communities working together to tackle gangs, but there is no greater priority than stopping violent crime."

1,500 arrests and 125 weapons seized in six months of war on London gangs

Evening Standard

Tackling: Gang violence is falling in London since a taskforce was deployed six months ago to crackdown on crime

Simon Freeman

03 September 2012

Serious violence among young people in the capital has fallen by 34 per cent in six months after police launched a crackdown on gangs.

The Met said the drop meant 1,000 fewer victims since the start of Trident Gang Crime Command in February.
Knife injuries involving under-25s have reduced by 29 per cent and the number of times a gun was fired dropped by 21 per cent.

The unit was set up to spearhead a renewed and long-term approach to tackling gangs, and officers have been involved in targeted operations to tackle and disrupt gang activity.

Since April, more than 1,500 known gang members have been arrested, many of them charged with serious offences, and 125 weapons have been taken off the streets across London.

A Met spokesman said: “We have also worked with partners to divert young people away from joining gangs and becoming involved in gang crime by supporting them into a number of schemes such as mentoring, how to gain employment, substance misuse programmes and help with housing issues.” Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said: “We know gangs are responsible for a lot of violent crime.

“It is early days but it seems this dedicated team is making a difference in tackling gang crime. It is part of our total policing approach. There is more to come.”

Commander Steve Rodhouse said: “We have been working hard, with our communities and partners, to tackle gang crime and divert young people from getting involved. We are never complacent and there is still much to do. We always said that this was a long-term commitment to deal with a difficult and embedded issue.

“We are working to create a hostile environment for offenders, gang members and those who support them and their criminal activity.

“We will continue to build better intelligence pictures and the central teams will pro-actively work in tandem with boroughs, arresting and targeting those individuals responsible for crime.” Mayor Boris Johnson said: “By cracking down on gang activity we are successfully bringing down knife- and gun-related crimes.

“There is no place in our city for youth violence and we are doing everything possible to stop young people being lured into criminal networks.

“It will take the continued efforts of the police and communities working together to tackle gangs, but there is no greater priority than stopping

violent crime.”