Knife crime in Islington is at a five-year high
PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 November 2015
Before 2015 is out, knife crime in Islington is already at its highest rate since 2010.
Met figures show that as of October 31, there were 102 recorded offences where a knife was used to injure – including the murders of 15-year-old Alan Cartwright in February and Stefan Appleton, 18, in June.
These figures do not include Vaso Kakko, 17, who was stabbed to death on Monday evening in Yoke Close, off North Road in Holloway.
Following Vaso’s killing, the mood was even more sombre when Mayor of London Boris Johnson arrived for a scheduled meeting with Ben Kinsella’s family on Tuesday morning.
Ben, 16, was murdered in 2008. He was stabbed to death by three men in North Road – just 100 yards from where Vaso was killed.
Mr Johnson met Ben’s mother and father Deborah and George, and actress sister Brooke, to discuss an issue that continues to plague Islington, and London as a whole.
He said: “In 2008, it was a terrible time when people were losing their lives, and continue to do so. It’s true that the numbers [of murders] have come down, but that’s no consolation.
“What today reinforces is the need to crack down on gangs, encourage stop and searches and stop people getting involved in knife crime.”
However, he added: “London has been getting a lot safer. We are one of the safest big cities in the world and that’s because we have a fantastic police force.”
The Gazette pitched a question from Cherrie Smith, sister of Alan Cartwright, asking what he will do as mayor to ensure stop and searches are increased.
But Mr Johnson said: “This is an operational matter. It’s not for us to decide. What I have said to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe [Met commissioner] is to encourage him, very strongly, that stop and search is a vital part of the mix. My recent conversation with him encouraged me that he’s stepping it up.”
Victor Sylvester, a cousin of Stefan Appleton, set up a petition calling for Mr Johnson to speak publicly on knife crime. He asked how those who carry knives can be removed from the streets.
Mr Johnson said: “At the moment, you have got two strikes before punishment. Custodial sentence for being caught twice is reasonable.
“Look at guns. There was a tough crackdown on gun crime and it went down absolutely dramatically in London. We are getting to the same place with knives.”
Tuesday’s meeting was at Finsbury Library, where the Ben Kinsella Trust runs its exhibition. Targeted at primary school pupils, it tells Ben’s story as a normal teenager, and discusses the perils of carrying a knife.
Afterwards, Deborah Kinsella said: “I think he (Mr Johnson) has taken something away from it. All politicians read the papers, but I believe our meeting, and the exhibition, emotionally affected him.”
But Mrs Kinsella, 53, of Barnsbury, added: “I believe it should be one strike. I would like to see more detention centres where they are taught about the consequences of carrying a knife. They run about at the moment and they think it’s cool. We need to get away from that.”
She said of Vaso’s death: “I’m devastated and heartbroken for the family. I know where they were this morning. They will be in shock and life will never be the same.
“It doesn’t get easier to get through the days. I don’t think it ever will. Not a minute goes by when I don’t think about my son, and what he missed.”
Council safety leader: death wasn’t gang-related
Seventeen-year-old Vaso Kakko was found with knife wounds by members of the public in Yoke Close on Monday night.
Emergency services were called at 8.50pm and the former St Mary Magdalene Academy student, of Newington Green, was pronounced dead at 9.22pm.
A murder investigation was launched but no arrests had been made as the Gazette went to press yesterday (Wednesday).
Cllr Paul Convery, Islington’s executive member for community safety, said: “I can’t imagine how his family feels. They came from Albania to Britain to make safe, good lives.
“We are quite clear this isn’t gang-related, but there’s no doubt the assailants were carrying knives.
“That tells a story that even young people not involved in gangs are carrying knives.
“The message has to be, young people absolutely should not carry weapons. They result in death.”
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