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London ‘on track’ for worst year of teenage killings, police say

·4-min read
 (PA)
(PA)

A Scotland Yard chief has warned London is on track for its worst ever year for teenage homicides.

Commander Alex Murray, the Met’s lead for violence, issued an urgent call for calm to prevent more young lives being lost as Covid restrictions lift.

He said there had been an increase in teenager murders, with 17 killed so far this year.

“If London continues to see this rate of violence, we will be on track to see the worst year for young homicides since 2008,” Commander Murray said.

Twenty-eight teens were killed in 2008.

Commander Murray said the teen killings disproportionately affected certain communities–of the 17 victims, more than two thirds (12) are black. 

Fifteen were killed with a knife and one shot. A boy, aged 14, died with two members of his family in a house fire started deliberately in Russett Way, Lewisham on March 6.

Last Friday, Jalan Woods-Bell, 15, became the third teenager killed in a week when he was stabbed to death during the school run in Hayes.

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Sixteen hours earlier, Denardo Samuels-Brooks, 17, died after he was chased in Streatham before being cornered and knifed in the chest.

Taylor Cox, 19, was shot in the head in a “targeted hit” near a nursery and primary school in Crouch Hill, on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 8.

Commander Murray said serious violence offences in London had declined by 22 per cent over the past year and the murder rate in general was down. In 13 of the 17 teenage murder investigations, the Met has charged suspects.

“Through lockdown there has been an incredible amount of work to take the wind out of the sails of people who drive violence,” he said.

“More than 400 guns have been recovered, thousands of knives and large quantities of drugs have been seized. A record £47 million in cash has been confiscated and offenders have been taken off the streets.

“But detectives investigating serious violence often meet silence from people we know have information that could help prevent violence.

“We understand that some people may not trust police so we are working hard to build those relationships and show that we are only motivated by preventing violence. It is our number one priority.”

He singled out the shooting of black equal rights campaigner Sasha Johnson, 27, at a party in Peckham where none of the 30 guests came forward to give police a statement.

‘End the bloodshed’

From left: Yvonne Lawson MBE, Jean Foster, Pastor Lorraine Jones, Lillian Serunkuma, and Becky Beston (Metropolitan Police)
From left: Yvonne Lawson MBE, Jean Foster, Pastor Lorraine Jones, Lillian Serunkuma, and Becky Beston (Metropolitan Police)

Commander Murray urged everyone to listen to five women whose sons were stabbed to death who appealed in April to other mothers to help them end the bloodshed on London’s streets.

Lillian Serunkuma, Yvonne Lawson MBE, Jean Foster, Pastor Lorraine Jones and Becky Beston teamed up with the charity Crimestoppers and the Metropolitan Police for the Hard Calls Save Lives campaign.

Commander Murray said: “This is not snitching - this is about justice and about saving lives or preventing people ending up serving life in prison for murder.

“We simply cannot do this alone. Everyone has a role to play. Community leaders, businesses, politicians, youth workers, parents and teachers – quite literally anybody and everybody.

“If you have networks that can help, please use them to get the message from these mothers across.”

Mrs Lawson’s son Godwin was a promising 17-year-old footballer when he was killed in 2010 trying to protect a pal from attack in Stamford Hill.

She said: “We need to all come together and fight this epidemic as we are fighting Covid-19.

“The police alone don’t have the cure, we urgently all need to work together, report what you know about violence and free young people from this terrible cycle.”

Pastor Jones’s community work since the 2014 murder of son Dwayne Simpson, 20, in Brixton has been praised by the Duchess of Cornwall.

She added: “As a mother who has lost her son through the senseless killings caused by youth violence, I plead with all communities, families, local authorities, social services, schools and faith groups to step up and engage more with our troubled youth before it results in violence.

“The police cannot solve this problem alone. The next child could be yours or someone you know. The wall of silence can only be broken by us.

“If it was not for the support of the police I would truly be lost and so many other parents who have lost their children feel the same. Let us all step up and work together as a matter of urgency.”

Anyone with information on knife crime should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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Evening Standard Comment: Sadiq Khan and Met must get a grip on London knife crime epidemic

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