CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Gun attack and stabbings fuel Camden Town ‘war zone’ fears

Passers-by stem flow of blood from stab victim in Camden Town

11 May, 2017 — By William McLennan

A TRIO of young men cradled Camden’s latest victim of knife crime in their arms while paramedics rushed to the scene in Agar Grove.

The passers-by found the victim collapsed in St Paul’s Crescent shortly before 5pm on Friday. They desperately tried to stem the flow of blood before emergency medics arrived and delivered life-saving treatment.

Detectives investigating the attack said they “retain an open mind as to the motive”. It follows a shooting that injured three young men – aged 16, 17 and 21 – the previous Friday, believed to have been the result of rising gang tensions. Detectives from Trident, the Met’s anti-gang crime unit, are investigating the gun attack, which is believed to have started in Agar Grove and spilled into Camden Road.

On the same night two 19-year-olds were stabbed in the stomach during a brawl in Kentish Town Road. One source with a detailed knowledge of police operations in the borough said there had been a “phenomenal” rise in stabbings in the past few months.

The latest outbreak of violent attacks has caused concern among those living near Agar Grove and one former youth worker, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said he believed it was linked to a recently-established Class-A drug market in the area. He said: “It’s getting like a war zone around here. It used to be like Crack City in the 80s and 90s and it’s going back to that if they don’t do something about it. “Is there going to have to be a couple of murders before anything gets done? Do we have to wait until some innocent mum or her kid get hit by a ricochet as she’s walking down the road?”

Busayo Twin, who grew up in Agar Grove and is now general secretary of the London School of Economic’s student union, said: “When I was younger, it was a lot more dangerous, there was a lot more gangs there was a lot more knife crime. Things kind of cleared up, but now I think knife crime has returned. Part of that is the natural cycle, I would say, but also because there is a generation that has grown up without the youth clubs and without other things to do.”

Ms Twin said that the authorities should look at knife crime as a mental health issue and not simply a problem for law enforcement, adding: “Even the fact that you hold a knife or gun, you must be in a state of trauma.”

The Met launched a wave of “intense proactive operations to tackle knife crime” last week after a rise in stabbings across London. There were nearly 400 arrests made and 300 knives taken off the streets.

DCS Michael Gallagher, a senior figure at Scotland Yard responsible for tackling knife crime, said it was “clearly a safeguarding issue,” adding: “A collaborative approach between statutory agencies, non-governmental organisations and communities is the only solution to achieving a long-term reduction in this type of offence, underpinned by a strong, academic evidence base and effective police enforcement.”

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