Onion-throwing Islington gang arrested in Halloween raids

Police say onions are ‘as powerful as a flying cricket ball’

SIX teenagers were arrested today (Friday) in a series of dawn raids as police try to clamp down on an onion-throwing youth gang in the run-up to Halloween.

The raids were carried out because over the past few months, there have been reports of a gang of up to 50 teenagers causing mayhem in Caledonian and Barnsbury wards.

Residents complained that the youths have been smoking cannabis, counting out large sums of cash, riding around dangerously on mopeds, and throwing oranges and onions at people.

Four other youths have already been arrested in the past few weeks.

The arrests, of boys aged between 14 and 17, have been for alleged public order offences, money laundering and drugs.

Three of the youngsters were picked up on suspicion of shining lasers at a helicopter.

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Inspector Steve Lewington, of Islington police, said: “Over the Halloween period, there can be spikes in anti-social behaviour and crime, so we have pro-actively targeted a group of suspected offenders to deter them from acts of disorder over the weekend and show that we will not tolerate behaviour which causes real problems for the community.”

Over the next few weeks, the police’s youth engagement team will knock on the doors of other suspected members of the group to warn their parents.

Police Constable Eddie Stevens, of Islington police’s youth engagement team, said: “This behaviour is really intimidating for the local residents.

“We have had reports of the group surrounding people and the other day they were throwing onions from the eighth floor of a building.

“One narrowly missed a pensioner, which is extremely dangerous because at that speed an onion is as powerful as a flying cricket ball.”

PC Stevens added that the youths would be given two options – working with the team to turn around their lives or continuing to be arrested.

He said: “Often parents are unaware their children are behaving in this way, so we work with them to give them support and explain to those living in council estates that they could be evicted if their child continues offending.”

* To contact the youth engagement team, call 0207 421 0537. To report a crime, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.