Highbury Quadrant Estate lockdown: Motorbike thugs need compassion, councillor warns
PUBLISHED: 17:54 19 February 2015 | UPDATED: 11:04 20 February 2015
‘Don’t just kick them out’ urges Green Party politician as police enforce curfew
Motorbike hoodlums that caused an entire estate to be put on curfew need to be treated with compassion, a politician has urged.
Yesterday (Wednesday) lunchtime, the whole of the Highbury Quadrant Estate, off Catherall Road, was put on lockdown by police in response to a gang of yobs terrorising residents.
People on the estate have been victimised by thugs driving stolen mopeds, burning the bikes, taking drugs and breaking into homes.
A pizza delivery boy has been stabbed, Christmas trees torched and teenagers regularly run from police helicopters in the chaos that’s blighted the lives of residents.
Now under the dispersal order, which expires tomorrow (Friday) lunchtime police can ask anyone to leave the area if they are even suspected of harassing or intimidating people on the estate, or causing any kind crime and disorder.
But Cllr Caroline Russell, Green Party councillor for Highbury East ward which covers the estate, says the answer isn’t as simple as locking up the offenders or kicking them out.
She said: “It’s incredibly complicated - ever since I first got elected I have been contacted by people concerned with motorbikes being burnt out, being intimidated, minor break-ins and so on.
“The situation had clearly got out of control.
“But I have huge misgivings about evictions, just kicking people out.
“These are kids at the end of the day and we need to help them, offer them support and give them things to engage them - we are working on more activities for young people in the area.
“These kids have been rampaging around the estate causing mayhem and destruction.
“People are at their wit’s end - they’ve had enough.
“But on the whole the are incredibly sympathetic to the situation. We can’t just wash our hands of them.
“We have to work towards their future and help them live a purposeful life - stay in education, find employment and be constructive members of society.”
Under new police powers, a dispersal order can be put in place by a police inspector, rather than a magistrate.
If a suspect is under 16, police can take them home, or to a place of safety.
Richard Padwell, Inspector for Islington East Cluster Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “This is key priority for cluster, and we won’t be complacent. That’s why we have brought in the dispersal zone.
“If needs be, we will bring one in again and again, often without warning.”
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