Parents ‘sick with fear’ after more Westminster gang violence

Queen’s Park shooting is latest shock as violent crime continues to blight the community

The shooting that saw three girls injured in Queen’s Park last week was a pertinent reminder of the borough’s escalating problems with gangs.

Coming just days after Westminster Council launched its �1.6million strategy to crackdown on gang violence, the incident showed the importance of tackling the ‘postcode wars’ which have started to blight much of north Westminster.

The three teenage girls, believed not to be the gunman’s intended targets, were injured in the shooting which took place in the Mozart Estate last Thursday evening.

With the borough’s gangs clashing with rivals from Brent and Kensington & Chelsea on an increasingly regular basis, residents have spoken of a threatening climate rising in the borough.

Sonia Dart, who lives near the scene of the shooting, said: “It didn’t used to be like this but the gang trouble has just got worse and worse.

“I don’t like my kids going out at night because you don’t know who is out there or what they are going to do.”

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Westminster North MP Karen Buck says Ms Dart’s fears are echoed in “heartbreaking emails” she has received from parents who say they are “sick with fear” when their children go out.

“As the poor girls (in the shooting) showed, you don’t have to be a gangster to be a target,” she said. “The ghastly incident has been a real shock to people and it may be something of a turning point. The community is saying enough is enough and they are sick of this.”

The past week has also seen two people attacked by gangs in separate incidents in Little Venice and Maida Vale, while a confrontation involving rival gangs is believed to have occurred at the Ha’Penny Steps off Harrow Road last Wednesday.

The council’s ‘Your Choice’ programme, which was announced last week, will introduce schemes aimed at young people.

One Mozart Estate resident, who didn’t want to be named, welcomed the scheme. He said: “Police crack down on these gangs that hang around but then the kids just wander back. You can’t police the streets 24/7.

“It’s a wider society problem. The only way to solve it is to get hold of the young kids aged 12 or 13 and prevent them from getting involved in the gang culture.”

Westminster Chief Supt Simon Ovens said police and youth officers work with young people across the borough on a daily basis.