CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Youth service chief warns of ‘really, really worrying’ post-virus violence

A man in his 20s was stabbed twice on August 17

02 September, 2021 — By Harry Taylor

THE head of Camden’s youth services said he is worried about the safety of youngsters across the borough after a knifepoint robbery in Maiden Lane a fortnight ago.

Eugene Griffin, who is in charge of Camden’s integrated youth services, told a meeting he was concerned about how guns were becoming easier to get hold of and that young people’s sense of “safety and security” had diminished as the country came out of Covid restrictions.

A man in his 20s was stabbed twice on August 17 near Maiden Lane Community Centre after a man with a knife wearing a balaclava tried to rob him and a friend. No arrests have been made.

Mr Griffin told a meeting of residents, councillors and officials on Thursday: “It’s a bit of a worrying time in the borough. The incident at Clarence Gardens [on the Regent’s Park estate] involved firearms and I think it’s a worry that it seems accessibility of firearms has increased that much in the borough.

“Also I think if you think of coming out of Covid where you’ve had a lot of restrictions you’ve had other issues affecting young people, and we’ve seen a rise in youth violence in parts of the borough. It is a worrying time, we know this is historic. This is a rivalry between different groups that has been going on for a long time.

“Social media has paid quite a clear role in this incident and subsequent incidents. We have been working through a youth safety plan across the last three years, knife crime with violence is dropping in the borough, but young people’s sense of safety and security has decreased coming out of Covid.”

He added: “I do think over the next couple of weeks it will be really really worrying.”

The meeting heard about another incident where two boys on bikes were chased by two others who were armed with knives.

Residents were told by the council’s head of security Graham Dyson that cameras were working on the estate and patrols by security teams had been increased. Its transmission system is currently being updated which will allow more digital cameras to be installed.

It was the second meeting with locals in as many weeks, after the drive-by shooting at a party in Clarence Gardens injured four people, including a 73-year-old grandmother.

Five people have been arrested, but nobody has been charged.

Temporary Superintendent Dominic Barnes added that resources had been taken away over the last week due to the Extinction Rebellion protests in central London, along with further policing in the bank holiday.

They were due to be increased again from Tuesday.

“We are still sending resources into the local area, sometimes covertly, so if we’re not seen there visibly it doesn’t mean we’re not there,” he added.

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