East Finchley parents patrol streets to protect kids after spate of muggings
PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:43 29 November 2019
Parents are patrolling East Finchley to deter a gang targeting and mugging their teenage children.
Concerns have been mounting over the last six weeks as teenagers have been threatened with knives and told to give over their possessions. In some cases this even includes their footwear.
Martin Bright's son was mugged at knifepoint four weeks ago. He had his bank card, phone and trainers stolen by the group of four youths aged between 15 and 16 in East Finchley High Road.
He said: "A bunch of lads befriended him and a friend of his, it slowly became clear that it wasn't a friendly approach. It seems to be pretty routine. When he got mugged his reaction was 'It was only a matter of time, all my friends have been mugged'. These are streetwise kids, but I have always said to hand stuff over. Stuff doesn't matter, but there seems to be an understanding on the part of the people doing this that if you threaten violence that people will do that."
Martin, 53, has spent decades as a journalist and was recently portrayed by Matt Smith in the film Official Secrets, about whistleblowing before the Iraq War. He now runs a charity, The Creative Society which helps get people from underprivileged backgrounds into the creative arts.
He posted news of the mugging on neighbourhood website NextDoor where others shared their experiences. There has since been other muggings in the area. Last week there were incidents reported on the corner of the High Road and Baronsmere Road.
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In response a group of parents, including Martin, got together on Friday night to "patrol" that junction for a number of hours to deter gangs. He said: "There is a feeling that it would be necessary. The police have said they welcome it as they need the intelligence on what's going on. People need to report stuff."
The group also plans to hold a public meeting in a fortnight with police about the issue.
He said: "It's a sorry state of affairs when parents have to patrol the streets themselves."
Sgt Chris Thompson from East Finchley's safer neighbourhood team said it was aware of the incidents and there would be an increased police presence in the coming weeks.
He said: "It's happening mostly in the evenings between school age boys on the High Road, near East Finchley's border with Fortis Green. We'd ask that people report muggings if they happen, so we can have that intelligence.
"We'd recommend people travel in groups, stick to main roads and well lit areas."