Call for 'zero tolerance' crackdown on Newham gangs

Flowers and tributes outside a pizza restaurant in Canning Town where 14-year-old Fares Maatou was f

Flowers and tributes outside a pizza restaurant in Canning Town where 14-year-old Fares Maatou was fatally stabbed on April 23. - Credit: Jon King

The community wants a "robust" response to gang activity.

That's part of a message from the chairman of Newham's Independent Advisory Group (IAG), which challenges police practices.

Paul Leslie was speaking at a meeting of Newham Council's watchdog - the crime and antisocial behaviour scrutiny commission - on Wednesday, May 5.

It followed a series of violent crimes, including fatal attacks on Fares Maatou in Canning Town and Junior Jah in Custom House.

Mr Leslie said: "I suspect the community want to see some robust responses to the gang activity happening in our borough.

"There is significant intelligence already on the ground as to who is doing what, where and to whom. 

"So what the community is saying very loudly is we want that addressed and we want it addressed proactively."

He called for a zero-tolerance approach, coupled with a "robust" community offer, to safeguard youngsters.

Fares Maatou

Fares Maatou was fatally stabbed in Canning Town on April 23. - Credit: MPS

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Imam Ammaar Domun, of UKIM Masjid Ibrahim and Islamic Centre, said youngsters felt like they are being held hostage by certain people.

"What is being done to disrupt the work of these individuals? We know where these gang members are," he added.

The meeting heard the Met is conducting covert operations against gangs, but it could take weeks or months for results.

Supt Waheed Khan admitted there are things the Met can do to improve, adding it was important the police, council, schools and community all play their part.

"Where there are shortfalls, [the Met] will seek to address them," he added.

Junior Jah

Abubakkar Jah, who was also known as Junior, died in Custom House on April 26. - Credit: MPS

Cllr Nareser Osei asked what the plan is for black boys, who she said make up a lot of fatalities.

Cllr Lester Hudson said: "Black kids are being killed. If these were white kids in a leafy suburb, I suspect there would be a lot of police investment."

In reply, Cllr James Beckles said addressing the issue was a key part of Newham's community safety work.

Supt Khan added: "It's tragic regardless of whether they are black, Asian or white. Statistics show there [are] a lot of black boys killed at the moment, but we don't differentiate between colours."

About 200 extra officers are on the beat and there have also been increased patrols, he said.

The town hall is pursuing a public health approach focused on the risks which increase the chances of someone becoming a victim or perpetrator of violence.

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