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One year on from Camden’s bloodiest night: What’s changed?

Somali community raise concerns about safety on the streets

21 February, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

SENIOR councillors, politicians and police officers were questioned by Camden’s Somali community on what had changed one year on from the stabbings of two young men on the same night.

Abdirkarim Hassan, 17 and Sadiq Aadam Mohammed, 20, were stabbed to death in a series of knife attacks on February 20 – a year ago yesterday (Wednesday).

The killings led to a march through the streets and a demand for more action. Dozens turned out in King’s Cross to quiz a panel, including Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer and Camden Council leader Cllr Georgia Gould on what the authorities had done to help youngsters within their community.

Aydarus Ahmed, whose family has suffered three fatal stabbings, told the meeting at the Somali Youth Development Resource Centre (SYDRC): “A week from today is the anniversary of Sadiq and Abdirkarim, which has changed the image and the whole of Camden in terms of violence which hasn’t been experienced before.We have just come a long way, this is why we are here tonight, we created this group which is a benefit for the whole community, in terms of sharing information, people getting together and supporting each other to go through these difficult times.”

He added: “Together we can change. It’s not only us as a Somali community but the whole diverse community. We just need this kind of integration, respectful, forget our differences, our religions to share as a humanity that we are just human beings who need to live in peace.”

The march against knife crime

He also questioned the impact of drill music, referring to a music video shown at the trial of 19-year-old Erick Ekam, who was found guilty of murdering Mr Ahmed’s nephew, Mohamed Aadam Mohamed, in Mornington Crescent in 2017.

Sadiq Aadam was the third member of his family to die on the streets of Camden, following the death of his brother, Mohamed Aadam, in September 2017 and the murder of his cousin, Mohamed Abdullahi, in 2013.

Camden’s Youth Safety Taskforce was set up shortly after the death of Mo­hamed Aadam, amid rising violence in the borough.

A report by the taskforce last year, which probed the underlying causes of knife crime, brought back findings including how vulnerable children were being groomed by drug dealers and a need for more support for children who have been excluded from school, or may be at risk of exclusion.

Last year’s CNJ front page

The council has pledged a £500,000 “youth safety fund” for projects aimed at preventing youth violence. The gathering last week also had stands offering help from services including housing, youth offending and apprenticeships.

Yusuf Deerow, chair of SYDRC, told the meeting: “Frankly we’ve come from a background to seek refuge and unfortunately the refuge we are seeking, too many of our lives are being lost, marginalised, heavily excluded from schools. Further to that, we have a very high representation in the criminal justice system.”

He said “so much” had been achieved in the past year, but added: “But in all reality there’s so much more we haven’t done, there’s so much more we could do. In times of budget constraints cuts, budget freezes, the only way we are going to achieve something as a community is with the help of others.”

One member of the audience put pressure on the panel by asking what the difference was in what the authorities had said previously.

Another, Sadia Ali, who runs Minority Matters, said the area was “drowning” and “infested” with drug dealers. Mr Starmer said that, in terms of practical help, there had been activities put on over the summer holidays, when crime can peak, ongoing police work to clamp down on the drugs trade and working with police on stop and search.

He added: “The best answer we can give is these are the actions that have happened already, there needs to be more and they need to be continued, and you need to keep asking that question as it’s absolutely the right question. “I genuinely believe we have to start as young as possible with kids, because if we are losing kids when they are coming out of primary school, we’ve got a massive problem. Every week that goes by it makes it that much more difficult to do.”

The demonstration last year

Abdul Hai, cabinet member for young people, said: “Since September, there are a number of things we have done and we are now in the stage of telling people go and deliver it.” Cllr Gould said they could not “ignore” the pressures parents were facing over work and income.

She added: “This is not the end of a conversation, this is a continuing piece of work we are going to do together.”

An Old Bailey trial into the circumstances of the double stabbing is due to begin in March.

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