Posted by Poppy Bradbury on Feb 15
Residents on an estate close to the scene where a teenager was killed say they will pull together as a community to try and recover.
Sue Walsh, chairwoman of Churchill Gardens Residents Association, said everyone on the estate was in a 'state of shock' after 16-year-old Hani Abou El Kheir died in nearby Lupus Street, Pimlico on January 27.
Dozens of flowers were laid near the site of his death in memory of the former Pimlico Academy pupil (pictured below).
Around 200 people packed into the residents' hall on Thursday last week to hear what police and Westminster Council were doing in light of the attack.
Councillor Nickie Aiken, leader for young people and community protection, said the authority was already working on a number of 'tough measures' to rid the estate of gangs and more uniformed officers were policing the area.
She added: "Our Your Choice programme, which has been running for the past 18 months, continues to offer clear alternatives for youth offenders.
"Young people are offered a choice between accepting an extensive package of measures to stay away from gangs and violent crime or face up to 'swift justice', up to and including an eviction or a ban from the area.
"But we can't do this alone, we are saying to parents if you are worried about your child please get in touch. We can and must help tackle this together."
Many residents felt the estate has been given unfairly bad press following the incident.
Ms Walsh said the residents' hall, for example, serves as a hub for the whole community with positive activities taking place from charity events to parent and toddler groups.
She said the meeting was important to see how residents, councillors and police could help 'our way forward as a community'.
Mark Field, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, said it is 'wrong to say there is a gang problem' on the Churchill Gardens Estate.
He added: "Understandably the people, not just in Churchill Gardens Estate but the surrounding roads, are looking for reassurance.
"It's important not to over stress the problem of gangs and unrest. One point I made to reassure people is that we've got a lot of young people on the estate, there are problems with some young people but the majority are good very good citizens."
It was also noted that Lupus Street, close to the river, acts as a thoroughfare for young people visiting from south London and not just from Churchill Gardens.
Maureen Langford, who lives nearby in Tachbrook Street, said: "I think we live too close to Parliament for the authorities to do anything about it.
"They need to wake up and smell the coffee. It's a 'no man's land' around here where they all fight their battles and their wars."
* Ahmed Mikhaimar, 19, and Arber Barbatovci, 19, both of Pimlico and Craig Boyce, 25, of Paddington, have been charged with murder following the death of Hani Abou El Kheir.