Crime purge puts gangs in spotlight (Islington Tribune)
Map showing gang territories. Key: 1 Elthorne Gang 2 Elthorne drugs market 3Res burglary in the north 4 Crouch Hall Court gang 5 Andover youths 6 Finsbury Park drugs market 7 HSG in Highbury West 8 Alcohol issues in Nags Head 9 i-phone robbery and snatch areas 10 Bemerton gang 11 Bemerton Estate drugs market 12 Milner Square youths 13 EC1 / Spa Green gang 14 Spa Green / EC drugs market 15 Res burglary in Canonbury / Mildmay
Published: 5 October, 2012
by PAVAN AMARA
A REPORT has laid bare the extent of youth gang rivalries and alliances in Islington, the crimes they are responsible for and where they operate.
It blames them for an almost quadrupling of “snatch offences” last year – mainly people having smart phones snatched from their hands – and a 30 per cent increase in “personal robbery”.
The report singles out a “significant” increase in serious youth violence, “largely as a result of gang rivalries in the borough”.
The Strategic Assessment 2012-2013 report plans ahead for next year while analysing the past year, and comes with detailed maps of “gang” and drugs market hotspots.
It will be discussed by the council next week and comes as an Old Bailey trial heard evidence of what is claimed to be a gang-related murder.
The 16-page Safer Islington Partnership report pays special attention to the make-up of gangs, speaking of newly formed alliances between the Elthorne Gang and Haringey’s Grey Gang and “constant encroachment into a rival gang territory (the Crouch Hall Gang), leading to a number of tit-for-tat violent incidents”.
This echoes concerns voiced by Islington’s crime chief Labour councillor Paul Convery concerning gangs forming “alliances” and working together in larger areas, which the Tribune reported last month.
“While the Crouch Hall Gang have splintered, with members either in prison, involved in other criminality or no longer coming to notice, the Elthorne Gang have been regularly coming to attention for offences such as drug dealing and handling stolen goods,” the report says.
In the south of the borough violent incidents were said to have increased between the Caledonian Road-based Bemerton Boys, who are now involved in the theft of iPhones and drug dealing, and EC1’s Easy Cash gang, who are connected to “smash-and-grab burglaries, robbery, drug dealing and anti-social behaviour” across Islington and Camden.
“This centred around a ‘respect’ issue between members from each side, with the Bemerton Boys accusing their rivals of disrepecting a fellow gang member who was murdered in 2009,” the report says. “A significant amount of partnership work has helped reduce the tensions and the corresponding violence seen. The Bemerton Boys are now involved in the theft of iPhones and drug dealing in their immediate area.”
So-called “drugs markets” have sprung up in Finsbury Park, and centre around the Andover and Six Acres estates. The markets are not gang-controlled but centred around a “group that has been identified, and attracts people from a large area”.
Yesterday (Thurs) the Tribune joined a police swoop across the borough, as part of the two-day Operation Red Kite, covering 14 different operations in Islington.
It is the borough’s “largest-ever” multi-agency endeavour, with numerous police units working together with Islington Council to “prevent and detect” future problems.
At 7am yesterday, 20 police officers swooped on two flats in Eagle Dwellings in City Road. Four people were inside both flats. One arrest was made for possession of a Class A substance after drugs paraphernalia and illegal methadone were seized.
Officers then moved onto the Peabody estate for a “systematic” weapon search, known as Operation Cleansweep, part of Red Kite, which used search kits, one police special, six POLSA (police search advisors) officers – to search the internal parts of the estate and the stairwells – and four police constables.
Four police community support officers and a park guard with a sniffer dog searched the exterior with the help of the estate’s caretaker. A small bag of cannabis was seized.
Sergeant Brett Grant, who led the weapon sweep through the estate as it was divided into sections, said searches would become a regular part of the team’s work across the borough.
“We have not done this for 10 years but long-term it will yield results,” he said. “Not only will it allow us to identify problems early, but we will be logging small details which could be vital in future investigations. Routine weapon searches are going to become a regular part of the way we work from now on. It’s going to help us develop new ways of working.
“The people who we are targeting get wise to things quickly. They constantly change the way they work, and we need to stay on top of things.”
Sergeant Aaron Barnes, who led the POLSA officers, said they worked in pairs searching visually and with equipment, and dismantled areas such as lifts, drains, and electric boxes.
In Finsbury Square, officers targeted cyclists’ safety, carrying out free security marking and safety awareness demonstrations showing how to ride alongside heavy goods vehicles.
Operation Red Kite will be tackling a variety of offences throughout the borough over the weekend.