Tuesday 3 April 2018

Resurgence of "postcode wars" between rival gangs in London means murder rate has overtaken New York City's for the first time ever as death rate soars

Credit Met Police

  • Last night the latest death in a violent crime epidemic a 17-years-old girl gunned down in cross-fire. 
  • Two boys, 15 and 16, found with gunshot and knife wounds three miles away. 
  • Capital's death toll continues to soar after overtaking New York murder rate in February 
  • A new report recently showed London's murder rate had overtaken New York City's for the first time ever. 
  • February marked the first month the UK capital saw more murders than New York, with 15 dead (nine aged 30 or younger). 
  • According to the report in the Sunday Times, London also suffered 22 fatal stabbings and shootings in March, higher than the 21 in the Big Apple. 
  • Both cities have similarly sized populations of around 8.5m people. 
  • New York City's murder rate has decreased by around 87 percent since the 1990s. 
  • Meanwhile, London's has grown by nearly 40 percent in just three years, not including deaths caused by terrorist attacks.
Fatal stabbings are taking place every three days in London amid fears of the resurgence of "postcode wars" between rival gangs.
A total of 29 people have been killed using knives so far in 2018, which started with the murder of four young men during New Year's Eve celebrations.
If the bloodshed continues at the same rate, more than 121 people will be stabbed to death in the capital by the end of the year, a dramatic 50 percent increase on 2017.
Teenagers as young as 17 are among the victims, while many more have been severely injured in a spate of violence that has sparked large-scale police operations and urgent policy changes.
Yet another man lost his life after being stabbed in the neck near Plumstead railway station in south-east London.
The 23-year-old was able to call a friend for help and was driven to the hospital, but later died from his injuries, and police do not yet know why he was attacked.
Fears are mounting over the resurgence of the so-called "postcode wars" that claimed dozens of lives in the past decade.
They saw territorial divisions between rival gangs brutally enforced across the capital, with victims unknowingly crossing invisible borders between postcodes or even smaller areas of specific streets or housing estates.
Patrick Green, CEO of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, fears the death toll "will get worse before it gets better".
"There is no sign of these murders finishing," he said.
"Some of them are linked to postcode wars or gangs, some of them are unprovoked.
"There isn't just one thing going on, which makes it really difficult coming up with a strategy to address it."
Mr Green warned that police operations can only contain knife crime in one area or displace it elsewhere.
"It comes down to one simple thing, we've got to stop young people carrying knives in the first place," he added.
All murders this year remain under investigation and have not yet reached trial, but witness reports suggest the area some victims came from was a motive for attacks.
An 18-year-old man was stabbed in Woodford, north-east London, by a gang who demanded to know where he and a friend were from on 15 March.
 They were waiting to be picked up by his father after playing football nearby when the attackers approached, stabbing the victim in the stomach after he said he lived in nearby Chigwell.
Witness Andrew Hollands found him lying in the road seconds later and gave him emergency first aid.
"Looking in my eyes, he asked me: 'Am I going to die?'" he said.
The teenager is understood to have undergone surgery for internal injuries.
Friends and relatives said he has no links to gangs, with his football academy describing a "very bright young man with a great attitude and a top player".
Weeks earlier, rapper Kelvin Odunuyi, 19, was shot dead by a masked man on a moped as he stood with friends outside a cinema in Wood Green.
"We now live in Harrow and I told him not to go back to Wood Green to see friends," said his mother, Afishetu Oniru.
"But he did and now he is dead after being shot dead in a random attack."
Mr Odunuyi was not believed to be part of a gang himself but associated with members of groups locked in an escalating war in Wood Green and Tottenham.
Both areas lie in the borough of Haringey, where almost 100 police officers flooded the streets last week in an effort to damp down violence.
Dogs joined patrols on foot and in cars, vans, bikes and people carriers in an "attempt to prevent crime and actively target criminality by providing a highly visible police presence".
Eight people were arrested for offences including possession of knives and a known gang member was caught to be returned to prison, but locals are worried that violence will return as police retreat. Mr Green said he had met young men who did not leave Tottenham until their early twenties, not even to travel to other parts of London because they were afraid.
"Postcode wars have already been there, it's just the level of violence that has been applied now that's striking," he added.
London's Air Ambulance is now being called to more stabbings and shootings than road accidents for the first time in its history, with "penetrating trauma" overtaking car and bike crashes as the most common cause for the helicopter to be dispatched.
Dr Gareth Grier, the lead clinician with London's Air Ambulance, said it was no longer unusual for teams to perform open chest surgery for stab wounds twice in a single day.
"This would have been unheard of a few years back," he added.
The Metropolitan Police commissioner, Cressida Dick, said last year that London's crime wave was being driven by a "core group of young offenders" repeatedly committing assault and robbery "with relative impunity" and questioned whether tougher prison sentences could deter them.
Knife crime has risen by 21 percent across England and Wales to a six-year high, with almost 37,000 offences recorded by police in the 12 months to September.
The statistic was revealed on the same day the number of police officers hit a record low, with the Police Federation accusing the Conservatives of "losing control in the fight against crime".
Forces have been announcing swingeing cut-backs as the government continues to refuse blanket funding increases, seeing the Metropolitan Police close many police stations and merge its 32 policing boroughs into 12 command units to save L325m.
Stop and search is being increased and laws have been introduced aiming to crack down on knife possession but police have been appealing for help to tackle the "underlying issues" driving the deadly trend.
This week the Home Office launched an advertising campaign calling on young people to go "knife free" with videos launched across Snapchat, Twitter, Spotify and other online platforms.
The Ministry of Justice has devolved some powers to the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to draw up bespoke policies for the capital including a "secure school" for young offenders, overhauling failing probation services and tackling the "root causes" of crime.
Mr Green said that when the violent crime rate was falling between 2011 and 2014, significant government funding had been injected into prevention work but many of the initiatives expired after a three-year cycle. "I think the ball has dropped," he added.
"The response has been slow but with the right investment and with the sustained investment we can tackle this."