Holborn residents demand CCTV after armed police swarm estate over gang violence
Bourne Estate hit by wave of violent attacks linked to drug trade rivals
27 September, 2017 — By William McLennan
ARMED police locked down a housing estate as a wave of tit-for-tat gang violence hit the streets of Holborn this weekend.
Police twice rushed to the Bourne Estate to reports of young men armed with weapons on Sunday, leading to fresh calls for Camden Council to install security cameras in the densely-packed residential area east of Gray’s Inn Road.
A 17-year-old was stabbed in the leg and a 19-year-old was believed to be hit in the head with a hammer.
Camden Council and police are aware of an escalating issue of youth violence, believed to be linked to the sale of class-A drugs to homeless addicts in Covent Garden and Soho.
One resident said: “Some guy got stabbed in Kirby Street on Sunday morning and one of his mates got beaten up really badly. Him and his mates basically took up arms and went looking for the other guys. The next thing I know is the whole area is shut down with armed police area and no one is allowed in or out. It was a very intense. At any moment I thought there was going to be a shoot out.”
It is thought that the perpetrators are teenage gang members from neighbouring Islington, who view the area as a battleground and drug marketplace, in close proximity to the West End, but with little police presence or surveillance.
Beryl Allen, chair of the Bourne Estate tenants association, said she has repeatedly asked Camden Council to install CCTV cameras.
She said: “I keep shouting for cameras. For the last four months we’ve had so much anti-social behaviour on the estate, it’s just not on. We had a lovely old estate and it’s just going down hill. We have got tenants who are 94-years-old and we have little kids and they should be able to play outside safely. ”
Holborn and Covent Garden Labour councillor Awale Olad said “stealth cameras” had been trialled on the estate that led to a “dramatic drop in crime”, but were removed two years ago.
“We have been asking for these to be reinstalled but we are always told that there’s a resourcing issue and these need to be balanced against the whole borough’s needs,” he said. “The only real winners here are the criminals.”
Camden Council had said they were aware of “significant challenges” on the estate relating to youth violence and drug dealing.
Police sent a public order unit, with officers from the riot-gear clad Tactical Support Group, along with a team of more than a dozen officers from the Met’s dedicated anti-knife crime unit, Operation Sceptre.
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said they were called to Kirby Street at around 1:40am and found a 17-year-old victim suffering a “deep laceration to the leg”. They also found a 19-year-old man who was suffering head injuries, believed to have been caused by a hammer blow.
Later in the day armed officers scrambled to reports of armed men on mopeds, they cordoned off the estate but failed to find the suspects or any victims.
Councillor Abdul Hai, Camden’s cabinet member for “young people and cohesion”, said: “We are mindful of links between these incidents, drug activity, rough sleeping and the street population and the Council is working with the Police and partners.
“We will continue to assess the need for CCTV on the estate as part of this approach. Funding cuts from Central Government have made it increasingly difficult for the Council to identify new funding for CCTV, but we are committed to working with the community and our partners to explore all available options.”