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Editor’s comment: Moped chase laws welcome but too late for Abdul Samad

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:29 25 May 2018

New police powers to chase mopeds are too late for Abdul Samad. Picture: DRAGON HALL TRUST

New police powers to chase mopeds are too late for Abdul Samad. Picture: DRAGON HALL TRUST

Archant

It takes a village to raise a child.

This African proverb yearns back to the days where extended families and neighbours lived closely together and looked out for each other’s children.

An ideal world where children grew up in a safe environment surrounded by a network of people they could trust, rely on and who knew them.

The other side of this - put a foot wrong and your parents would soon know about it. I will never forget the fear of arriving home when I was 14 to be summoned to my dad’s study. His friend had phoned him after seeing me smoking in the street.

This village has never been needed more than it is today, with family breakdown, long working hours, a pressure-packed world of social media, gang culture and knife crime and cuts to youth services and youth clubs.

Rebuilding the village is essential. Parents, families, teachers, schools, social workers, youth workers, local bobbies on the beat, police school liaison officers, must all play their part. We urgently need to build these villages again.

It has to start with parents knowing where their teenagers are and who they are with. If a youth knows that if they are seen hanging around with a gang in or riding pillion on a moped someone will get to hear about it.

In the meantime an announcement yesterday that police officers in high-speed moped chases are to be better protected under new Home Office rules cannot have come soon enough. Laws surrounding the pursuits will be tweaked to recognise police drivers’ high level of training and give them greater protection.

The shake-up aims to dispel the “myth” that officers cannot pursue moped riders who are not wearing helmets. Policing Minister Nick Hurd said: “Criminals must not think they can get away with a crime by riding or driving in a certain way or on a certain type of vehicle.” The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has been calling for these changes for years. Why has it taken so long?

It is heartbreaking that the changes come too late for youth charity worker Abdul Samad, fatally stabbed through the heart in the street in Maida Vale by two teenagers who demanded he hand over his iPhone. Nathan Gilmaney, 18, and Troy Thomas, 18, murdered Samad in the midst of a horrific four-hour robbery spree around west and north west London ordering random strangers to hand over their phones and valuables at knifepoint.

The account of their ruthless crimes makes chilling reading. How can they have been allowed to carry on for four hours unchallenged before eventually being caught after a high-speed chase? During the chase Gilmaney showed utter contempt by throwing off his helmet believing it would stop the cops from following. There is no doubt that the police need these new powers but it is not the only solution.

Victim Abdul Samad had devoted his life teaching computer skills to young people for the Dragon Hall Trust charity. Chairman of trustees Cllr Sue Vincent said: “He was a young man on the cusp of something truly special, passing on his knowledge, vision and unbridled enthusiasm to young people.”

Abdul Samad was part of the village. We need more people like him. RIP Abdul.

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