Islington Council leader grilled on “explosion of violence” in streets

Cllr Richard Watts addresses the packed room on Thursday

Cllr Richard Watts addresses the packed room on Thursday - Credit: Archant

Meeting hears that 180 under-18s, out of a total 40,000 in the borough, are responsible for “serious crime”

The leader of Islington Council has defended the borough’s response to an “explosion of violence” on the streets.

Following the deaths of teenagers Alan Cartwright and Stefan Appleton this year, Cllr Richard Watts was grilled about youth violence at leader’s question time on Thursday.

The council was accused of blowing “hot air” at the issue at a packed Caxton House Community Centre in Archway.

Cllr Watts told the meeting that out of 40,000 under-18s in the borough, 180 are involved in “serious” crime driven by drug dealing.

And he said: “This is the problem that’s leading to an explosion of violence.

“We are seeing an increase in stabbings and extreme violence that in years gone by would have been sorted by a punch-up – not that I am condoning that.

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“We can talk about youth services and youth clubs etc, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves: these 180 wouldn’t go to youth clubs.

“We have a combination of measures in place. We have stronger enforcement, but also offer help to those who want to leave the lifestyle.”

He added: “I think this happens as a result of domestic violence in the home, and that is something we want to deal with as a borough.”

Cllr Paul Convery supported his colleague: “What has been heartening has been the incredible response to those two murders. Police have absolutely shifted a gear.

“There was a lot of violence in April, May and June. But thankfully, in July and August, which are two months when you are usually holding your breath, it was really quiet. That’s because a huge number of perpetrators are in custody. That’s only job number one, though.

“Number two is stop the next wave of kids aged 12 getting involved in the same sort of violence.”