CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Mothers escorting teenagers to school gates in wake of knife killings

Join the silent march against knife crime TODAY (Thursday)

22 March, 2018 — By William McLennan

Sophie Linden at Tuesday’s meeting

FEARFUL mothers have taken to escorting their teenage sons to and from the school gates in the wake of a spate of knife killings, the woman responsible for overseeing policing in London has heard.

Sophie Linden, the Mayor’s deputy for policing and crime, said she felt “sad” and “angry” after confronting the fears which have gripped parents in the weeks since two young men were killed within little more than an hour during one of the bloodiest nights of knife crime in Camden’s history.

A mass coalition of parents, teachers and children will join a silent march this afternoon (Thursday) that will pass the scene of two of the latest murders. Organisers, supported by the National Education Union, have called for an end to violence and greater investment in youth services.

Communities across the borough have been rocked by last month’s violence, which left two dead and a third “lucky to be alive” during three separate attacks on one night. Abdikarim Hassan, 17, was stabbed to death in Bartholomew Road, close to his family home on the Peckwater Estate at around 8pm on February 20. Less than two hours later, Sadiq Aadam was pronounced dead at the scene in Malden Road where he was attacked.

More than 100 people packed into St Luke’s Church on Tuesday night, less than 200 metres from the site of Abdikarim’s murder Ms Linden spoke directly to the family of the victims and was embraced by Mr Aadam’s mother.

Parents at the meeting said that their primary school children were now scared to leave the house following the rise in violence.

Other mothers said they were accompanying their teenage children to the school gates in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon.

They asked for increased patrols by police and community wardens. Sadia Ali, who runs Minority Matters, a charity focused on social inclusion, told the meeting: “We are here because there has been a crisis. There has been death on our streets. There is a knife crime increase. We need to question why our young people are carrying knives. The main reason is they are afraid and they are scared. We need to tackle what is causing them to be scared, tackling drug dealing and gang activities in the street.”

Asked by the New Journal to address parents’ fears, Ms Linden said: “It’s not an acceptable situation. We are doing everything we can from City Hall to make sure they don’t feel like that in the future and to make sure the police have the resources they need.”

She added: “I would say that London is still a safe city, but for some young people it doesn’t feel like that and that makes me sad and makes me angry. We are not complacent. I know there are many young people who don’t feel safe. It makes me more determined to do something about it.”

Asked if more could have been done to tackle the escalating violence before last month’s brutal attacks, Ms Linden said that City Hall had published a new knife crime strategy in June last year and pointed towards the Met’s anti-knife crime activities, Operation Sceptre.

She added: “It’s not that there’s been complacency and then there’s these dreadful incidents, but clearly we can’t allow it to continue.” The “Camden Against Violence” march will depart from Queen’s Crescent at 4.30pm today (Thursday), heading to through Kentish Town and Camden Town, before ending in Harrington Square.

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