Gang violence mentors say revenge killings not the answer in Camden
Sprawled on the ground with blood pouring from a gash to his head and his body badly beaten, all Imran could think of was revenge.
The 16-year-old from Regent’s Park was biding his time, plotting how best to track down and kill his attackers who had beaten him with baseball bats.
That was until a call from an unknown number flashed up on his mobile phone and changed his life.
It was not long before former gangster Damion Roberts was at Imran’s parents’ door to offer a friendly word of advice.
Imran, who repeatedly refused to co-operate with police after the attack, said: “If I had not met up with Damion something definitely would have happened. There would have been a major incident, I mean big.
“The first boy I was going to see, I would have killed, punched him up, cut him. I was so angry.”
Mr Roberts, who served six years in prison for dealing Class A drugs, is a mediator on a programme set up by the Metropolitan Police and Camden Council to try to prevent people at risk of committing violence from doing so.
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It is called Capital Conflict Management (CCM) and works mostly with males aged 13-30 involved in gang violence, putting them in touch with mentors who have had personal experience of the issues they face.
Imran, who is studying a B-Tech in business, said: “Everything Damion had been through was so much worse than what I had experienced that I thought he might understand where I am coming from. He must have felt this angry and also wanted to get revenge.
“He had been to prison and had been through things that I hadn’t and that’s why it was different. It could have been me. I felt cool, relaxed, light-headed and that’s when things changed for me.”
CCM was set up by ex-detective chief inspector Andy Simon, who worked for 32 years with the Metropolitan Police’s specialist gang crime unit Trident.
The service is voluntary and confidential – with CCM refusing to disclose any details to police – and is often a “last resort” for police when both victims and witnesses refuse to speak.
CCM become involved when an incident last year between two rival gangs in Gospel Oak and Swiss Cottage escalated into school stabbings.
Officers could not get either side to speak and so the case was referred to CCM.
Three boys from the QC and Sin City gangs agreed to sit down and talk over their differences and finished with a handshake.