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'Yobs make this neighbourhood a gangland'

PUBLISHED: 17:59 07 June 2007 | UPDATED: 14:33 07 September 2010

PARTS of Kentish Town have become ""like the Bronx"" because of intimidating gangs, according to worried residents. Around Malden Road and nearby estates criminal groups have led businesses to shut up shop and pensioners to lock themselves in

By Ed Thomas

PARTS of Kentish Town have become "like the Bronx" because of intimidating gangs, according to worried residents.

Around Malden Road and nearby estates criminal groups have led businesses to shut up shop and pensioners to lock themselves in their homes.

At the weekend there were youngsters throwing glass bottles from a rooftop in the latest in a spate of incidents which have sprung up since the expiry of the exclusion zone that used to stop groups from gathering in the area.

"A group of boys had climbed onto a rooftop by the Leysdown flats on Saturday evening, and made so much noise all night," said Yasmin Allen from the Haverstock Safer Neighbourhoods citizens' panel.

"On Sunday morning I came past in flip-flops because it was a hot day, and there was glass everywhere. It was like the aftermath of a pitched battle. The situation has become extremely intimidating. I'm a single mother and sometimes I need to be escorted to my door because I'm so frightened."

Smashed bus shelters and shop windows are common as well as youngsters defecating on doorsteps and dealing drugs.

Ms Allen said businesses are closing up and at a pizza takeaway on Malden Road a female member of staff has been sexually harassed.

A meeting of the Haverstock Safer Neighbourhoods panel was held on Tuesday night (June 5) to address some of the issues. And dozens of people turned up to express their concerns.

One resident of Shipton House, Shahed Kazi, said he had been assaulted and death threats had been made to his family.

Others said drug dealing was going on in people's gardens with illicit packages stashed in people's flower pots and needles left behind.

"It's like the Bronx, with people running around carrying knives," said one woman from the St Silas estate, who asked not to be named.

MP Frank Dobson made a tour of the area this week to listen to people's concerns. One of the problems is that the youth centre on Queen's Crescent is now only open one night a week.

Police believe the troublemakers are not just local youngsters, but gangs from as far away as Tottenham and Kilburn. Problems are also extending as far as Eton College Road, where drug dealers are now known to be working around the church.

Officers are working with council officials to try to reduce crime and are re-applying for the dispersal zone.

Sergeant Mark Harries from the Haverstock Safer Neighbourhoods team said four anti-social behaviour order applications are being made against offenders and parents are being threatened with eviction from council property if their kids continue misbehaving.

"The problem is, when our officers are there these youngsters behave themselves," he said.

The police team has now made tackling the gang culture a priority over the next two months, along with drug dealing and car crime.

broadway@hamhigh.co.uk

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