Ben: Streets safe, says top police officer

ISLINGTON is a safe place to bring up your teenage sons, according to the borough s top cop.

ISLINGTON is a safe place to bring up your teenage sons, according to the borough's top cop.

Borough police commander Bob Carr made the claim after the fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Ben Kinsella - the third boy to have been knifed to death in Islington in the past 12 months.

But worried mums have dismissed his words, saying they are afraid to let their children out.

Chief Superintendent Carr said: "The fact that we have had three people who have died of that age is unlucky. Islington's crime is generally falling. I would say yes, it is safe."

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He was backed by deputy council leader Terry Stacy (Liberal Democrat), who said: "Islington is a safe place to bring up kids. And the council and police are doing everything we possibly can to tackle knife crime."

According to Chief Superintendent Carr, the three deaths - of 14-year-old Martin Dinnegan in June last year, of 16-year-old Nassirudeen Osawe in December, and then of Ben on Sunday - are "a really unhappy coincidence".

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He said: "If you look at all three, they are all very different. With Martin's, it looks like it was a coming together of two groups or gangs. With Nass, it was a spat on a bus. With Ben, it was a licensed premises linked affair where there was an argument between groups that spilled outside."

But he admitted that the borough had a problem with knife crime - and that it was his "number one priority". Chief Superintendent Carr said: "The big link between these three young men is that someone had a knife in their pocket. I do have a massive concern about the issue of youths and knife crime - and (the people involved) seem to be getting younger and younger."

Islington police have extra officers on the streets, are upping the number of stop-and-searches, are sending people into schools and charging anyone who is caught carrying a knife - regardless of age.

But mums marching on Tuesday fear the borough is far from safe.Ben's family friend Louise Flowerday, 38, of Mackenzie Road, Holloway, said: "It was important to come here today for Ben - and to show the world that this has got to stop. I don't think it's safe to bring up our kids in Islington. He was just a fantastic kid. I will never forget his smile and his family have got some fantastic memories. He was just a true angel."

Susan Coulman, 56, of Elton Place, Newington Green, said: "I have got 10 grandchildren from two to 16 and I don't want them to grow up in a place like this. You let them out and you never know if they are coming home. I don't think it's safe to brink up kids in Islington. I am frightened to let my grandchildren out.

Helen Burns, 49, of City Road, Finsbury, added: "We worry when kids go out. It shouldn't be happening. This fight is for all kids.

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