MPs call for meeting with Theresa May about London violence following death of Israel Ogunsola in Hackney
- Credit: PA
MPs in London have asked for a meeting with Theresa May over the spike in violence that has seen more than 50 people killed in the capital this year – six in Hackney.
The most recent attack came on Tuesday night when Israel Ogunsola, 18, was stabbed to death in Link Street, off Morning Lane.
Israel had also been stabbed at the New Year’s Eve party in Old Street, just over the Islington border, that claimed the capital’s first victim of the year, Steve Frank Narvaez-Jara.
He was cycling to meet friends on Tuesday when he was attacked, and died at the scene despite the efforts of police and medics to save his life.
Hours earlier, 53-year-old Bobby Awofeso was killed in a fight at Betfred bookmaker’s in Upper Clapton Road.
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Two 17-year-olds have been arrested on suspicion of murder over Israel’s death and a man was today being held over Mr Awofeso’s death.
Questions are now being asked about the cause of the knife and gun crime at the centre of most of London’s killings. Last night parents called for an end to the violence at a rally near Hackney Central and a prayer walk was also held starting at Hackney Town Hall.
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Meg Hillier, Hackney South and Shoreditch MP, has joined a growing list of politicians to blame the number of deaths on huge funding cuts to the Met. Hackney, for example, has lost one in four officers since 2010.
“The recent deaths in Hackney are a tragedy,” she said. “As well as catching the perpetrators, the wider issues about why violent crime and knife crime in particular is increasing need to be tackled. This is partly about resources – one in four police in Hackney lost since 2010 has an impact.
“Each death is a life sentence for the family and fuels fear among our young people, in particular, about how safe the streets are.
“I have written with colleagues to the prime minister asking for a meeting with London MPs about murders in London.”
Ms Hillier said she believed community organisations played a huge part in finding a solution and needed to be supported.
“We need to support the grassroots sports and youth clubs which support young people locally,” she added. “These unsung local heroes are part of the solution to help provide safe places and great local role models.
“I am pleased Sadiq Khan has set up a fund and local youth groups will be able to bid for money after the local elections and I will be urging Hackney groups to bid.”
Meg’s calls for local solutions were echoed by ex-Hackney gang member Gwenton Sloley, who now works as a government adviser and youth worker.
He said the resolution lies in paying people in the community – particularly faith groups – to mediate with the young people involved in gangs.
“A lot of these young people go to pray once a week,” he said. “Faith groups should be given the money to run their own little schools and educate them because they don’t listen to anyone else.”
Gwenton said the shock rise in gun violence that has led to seven deaths in 2018, including Dalston’s Abraham Badru, was down to younger gang members having more money.
“Once you’ve got money it’s not a problem,” he told the Gazette. “It isn’t guns that aren’t widely available, it’s the ammunition – not a lot of people have bullets.
“But now these young people are making money off county lines drug dealing they can get them.”
He also said that, once violence has escalated from knives to guns, gangs want to prove they mean business. “You can’t stab me if I’ve shot you,” he added.
Home secretary Amber Rudd this week responded to the violence by saying social media firms must act against video platforms and message boards that incite and glorify violence.
Hackney mayor Phil Glanville agreed social media companies must do more. He told the Gazette: “There’s been a lot of research locally and nationally on the issue and social media companies need to take more concerted action.
“There’s a narrative around hate speech and cyber bullying but this is as important and the impact should be analysed in the same way.”