Youth violence reaches “crisis” levels in Westminster

Wave of teenager stabbings and violent assaults as police and council leaders come together to discuss solutions

YOUTH violence in north Westminster has reached “crisis” point after three teenagers were stabbed, another assaulted and a 12-year-old bottled in just over a week.

The violence began on December 30 when the young boy was hit over the head with a bottle in what appeared to be an unprovoked attack at a Harrow Road convenience store.

A 17-year-old man was then stabbed on Harrow Road on New Year’s Eve while a 19-year old was knifed the same night on Shirland Road in Maida Vale. A third man was stabbed 11 times on the Mozart estate in Selby Square last Friday and a 15-year-old boy hit over the head with a metal box in an underground car park on Princess Louise Close, Paddington, on Monday.

The violence is believed to involve rival groups of youths from North Westminster, Kilburn and Ladbroke Grove.

Borough commanders in charge of policing and council leaders from Westminster, Brent and Kensington and Chelsea are due to meet to discuss the issue.

North Westminster MP Karen Buck said: “The series of violent attacks on young people has reached crisis proportions. I’m relieved the commanders of police from the three boroughs are now coming together with council chief executives as this shows priority is being given at the highest level.

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“However, the police cannot solve this alone and I am desperately aware that the worsening situation coincides with massive cuts in the youth service which can’t but risk making the situation worse.”

The 12-year-old Harrow Road victim remained in hospital for a week after being attacked by a group of youths who smashed what appeared to be a milk bottle on his head.

A week after the New Year’s Eve stabbings, the 18-year-old man was found by police in Selby Square with multiple stab wounds to the back and abdomen in the early hours of the morning. He had been walking home alone when a large group of up to 15 people approached him from behind and attacked him when he tripped up.

The man has been described by police as “lucky to be alive” and was released from hospital on Monday.

In response to the violence, Maida Vale, Little Venice, Harrow Road, Westbourne and Queen’s Park wards were all subject to stop and search powers by the police for a 24-hour period on January 6 and 7.

Issuing the order, Inspector Mark Cruickshank said: “This power was a considered and proportionate response to disrupt incidents of youth related violence and disorder.

“Its application was considered necessary to respond to a number of incidents which occurred both over the New Year and most recently a disturbance involving youths in Edbrooke Road.”

That incident last Wednesday saw two groups preparing to fight before running off in opposite directions.

Westminster DCI Michael Forteath said: “We are concerned that there has been an increase in this sort of activity since Christmas.

“We’re treating this very seriously and following a number of lines of enquiry but we need the community to help. People out there know what these incidents are all about and we need this information.”

Two people were arrested and bailed for the New Year’s Eve stabbing on Harrow Road. No other arrests have been made.

Anyone with information is asked to call Westminster Serious Violence Team on 020-7321 9315 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.