CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Shop workers rescue teenager chased by gang through Queen’s Crescent

'If we'd had let him out - he's never going to see his parents again, there would be flowers outside here now'

23 March, 2017 — By William McLennan

The window of Camden Fish Bazaar

SHOPKEEPERS gave shelter to a young man being chased through the streets by a group of more than 10 people armed with knives and bats in Queen’s Crescent on Monday night.

Police were handed emergency powers to “disperse” people from the area to try to prevent further violence in the days after the attack. Camden Council is working alongside officers to try to establish what took place.

Eye-witnesses described the moment a man ran into the Camden Fish Bazaar, on the corner of Weedington Road, seeking sanctuary from a masked group of up to 16 people carrying weapons at around 7pm.

Nazrul Islam, who was in the shop at the time, said: “All of a sudden two young boys run into the shop. The next moment I see about 16 or 17 young boys chasing them. That’s when we realised something’s not right, they’re not shopping.

“One had a knife, two with hammers, one with machete and the rest with baseball bats and metal pipes. One of them managed to use his weapon on the boy’s wrist and it didn’t look too good. I think it was broken.”

He added: “We somehow pushed them out and locked the door, so they couldn’t get in to beat him up, but just to get their frustration out they smashed the windows.”

He said the injured teenager, who told him he was from Islington, was eventually picked up in a car by his elder brother.

“When you see a young boy, who’s got a whole life ahead of him, the only thing we could think of was to save him,” he said.

“If we let him out, he’s never going to see his parents again. There would be flowers outside here now.”

Mr Islam said it took police more than an hour to arrive while the armed group waited outside, growing in confidence.

He said eight emergency calls were made and questioned what had gone wrong with the handling of the 999-calls, with Kentish Town police station less than a kilometre away in Holmes Road.

Khorosh Miah, who owns the shop, said: “We lost our window. It’s not a problem. The problem is we kept repeating to these emergency services: ‘Look, these guys have got knives, machetes, all sorts of weapons. It’s not only his life in danger. Five of us are here. Our lives are in danger too.’ They came yesterday and said: ‘Sorry we are late.’ But sorry doesn’t change everything. That sorry could have cost somebody’s life.”

Police introduced a “dispersal zone” covering all of NW5 at 8.45pm on Monday, lasting for 48 hours, in response to what they described as “violent disorder with weapons”.

It gave officers temporary power to order somebody to leave the area if they suspect they might commit “crime or disorder”. Failing to comply with an officer’s order to leave the area is a criminal offence.

Officers on push bikes were locked in a game of cat-and-mouse with teenagers around Queen’s Crescent this week as they attempted to enforce the dispersal zone. The New Journal witnessed teenage boys being put in handcuffs on two occasions on Tuesday afternoon.

Councillor Jonathan Simpson, the Town Hall’s cabinet member for community safety, said council officers, including community wardens, were “liaising with police colleagues regarding this recent incident”.

Police said they received “in excess of 10 calls for police assistance to gangs of youths fighting in the Queen’s Crescent and Weedington Road area”. They did not comment on the delay in reaching Mr Miah’s shop.

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