Plea for youth clubs to tackle gang violence

Neighbours fear it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt or even killed following a summer of escalating gang violence in Lisson Grove.

Members of the Lisson Grove Residents’ Association have spoken out following the most recent attacks which have shaken the Westminster estate.

One resident, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, said: “They are waiting for each other and fighting with weapons and big knives.

“We have had trouble with antisocial behaviour before, but this kind of gang violence is new.”

She said there were three serious fights over the summer months with the latest incident happening a fortnight ago when two 16-year-old boys were stabbed following a fight outside Costless Shop, in Lilestone Street.

A CCTV camera near the shop, which would have captured the attack, had been removed for essential maintenance just days before.

Westminster Council said it will be replaced within a week.

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But residents have said incidents are often not reported to police and called for Westminster Council to do more to keep young people off the streets and out of trouble.

“It makes people uneasy and frightened to let teenagers out,” another resident said.

“We need the council to provide something for young people to do. They have got the money but they are not doing anything for the youth.”

Cllr Nickie Aiken, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for children, young people and community protection, said: “I share the community’s concerns about gangs, serious youth violence and other antisocial behaviour on our estates, which is why we are continuing to push ahead with our gangs programme, Your Choice.

“This involves our workers going into estates and working with young people to divert them from getting involved in gangs and crime and helping existing gang members to find a path out of gang life.”

She said the council provides a range of activities for young people with more than 100 hours of free sporting activities per week and extra summer activities.