CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Home Secretary Amber Rudd urged to visit knife crime neighbourhoods

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also yet to visit in wake of Camden's bloodiest night

01 March, 2018 — By William McLennan

THE New Journal today (Thursday) calls on the Home Secretary to visit the communities that have been shattered by Camden’s bloodiest night of knife violence.

Amber Rudd has so far ignored a request by this paper to speak to the friends and families of the two young men who lost their lives in an unprecedented spate of stabbings last week. An uncle of one of the victims has made a plea to Ms Rudd to come to Camden and “sort it out”.

The deadly rampage last Tuesday, which left a third teenage victim “lucky to be alive” in hospital, came among spiralling levels of violence. Indifference from national politicians has been compared to the well-resourced response to recent terrorist attacks and raised doubts over their determination to stop the cycle of killings.

The New Journal has learned that the number of young people stabbed in Camden nearly doubled last year, after several stable years. There were 94 stabbings of people aged 25 and under in Camden in 2017, up from 49 in 2016 and 53 in 2015. Council leader Georgia Gould wrote to Ms Rudd in November, warning of “rising crime levels” amid a reduction of 264 police officers in the borough.

Sadiq Khan is due to send his deputy

She told the Home Secretary that “police do not have the necessary resources” and appealed for better funding for the Met, which has been forced to make cuts of £600million since 2010. Ms Rudd did not respond directly, but Cllr Gould said a letter from the Home Office indicated there would be no changes to the status quo.

The day after the deaths of 17-year-old Abdikarim Hassan and Saqid Aadam, 20, London Mayor Saqid Khan called for a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. He said: “This is a national problem that requires national solutions. Londoners need the government’s help if we are to beat it.” In the past days, communities across the borough have been struggling to come to terms with the shocking attacks which spanned a little over two hours.

It began when a 16-year-old was attacked in Somers Town at around 8pm, shortly before Abdikarim was stabbed to death in Kentish Town. Just over an hour later, Mr Aadam was chased through the street and set upon by a group of up to four suspects armed with knives and a sword. Police are appealing for witnesses who saw a blue Ford transit van near the scene of the two murders, which they believe was used by the attackers. Mr Aadam was the third member of his family to be stabbed to death on the streets of Camden.

His brother Mohamed was killed in September and their cousin, Mohamed Abdullahi, was murdered in 2013. Met commissioner Cressida Dick, Cllr Gould and Keir Starmer MP have all met with the victims’ families and community leaders in the past week.

Mr Abdullahi’s father, Aydarus Ahmed, said: “As a family, we are heartbroken, but what is happening with our youth is a tragedy for the whole community. All over London and the whole country, it’s a national tragedy. The police commissioner was here, the MP and the councillors. Why not the Home Secretary? We need to sort it out together.”

Abdikadir Ahmed, of the Somali Youth Development Resource Centre, was one of those to meet the Met commissioner on Monday. He said: “I asked her why this isn’t being taken more seriously. If this was a terrorist incident, everybody would be getting around, there would be a Cobra meeting. Yet knife crime is devastating more communities. “Why isn’t it top of the agenda? Is it because it is affecting BME and impoverished communities?”

Mohamed Farah, who set up a Somali parents group in response to the killings in an attempt to identify institutional failings, said: “We need the Home Secretary here, listening to us.”

Mayor Khan, who on Tuesday hosted senior Camden Council figures as he triumphantly announced the winners of a cultural competition, has not visited the scenes of devastation himself.

He is expected to send his deputy, Sophie Linden, in the coming weeks. In response to a letter from the New Journal to Ms Rudd, sent on Tuesday, inviting her to “visit the affected areas and address residents’ concerns”, the Home Office said in a statement last night (Wednesday): “This government is determined to do everything it can to break the deadly cycle and protect our children, families and communities.”

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