Suspects’ mums don’t know their kids are in gangs, says Islington cop

The officer spearheading a major crackdown on gangs in Islington says suspects’ parents have no idea what their children are mixed up in – until police burst through the front door.

Ch Insp Mike Cowie says most parents are unaware of the lifestyle their offspring are being drawn into.

That includes youths targeted as part of a three-day blitz on gang suspects that ended on Friday.

Sixteen people were arrested – including a 12-year-old – when police mounted morning raids on 12 addresses and carried out 76 weapons sweeps, seizing two knives, cannabis and crack cocaine.

Ch Insp Cowie, Islington Police’s head of operations, said: “A lot of the families don’t know that they are members of gangs – the majority in fact.

“Ninety per cent of the parents are very shocked when they find out, but then they work with us.

“We’re trying to divert these youngsters from gang activities. We want to offer them the opportunity to walk away from that life.”

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Drugs and weapons

Ch Insp Cowie said there are three main gangs in Islington, warning: “If you allow this to continue, these gangs are going to get more sophisticated and involved with more organised crime.”

The Gazette joined one house raid on Friday morning. A 40-strong police unit battered down the door – smashing a pane of glass – and surged inside in search of drugs and weapons.

Ch Insp Cowie said: “The mother doesn’t know. This will happen again if the son decides to carry on hanging out with the same boys.”

A young girl in school uniform was also at home. Cllr Barbara Sidnell, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, who joined the raid, said: “I felt quite emotional seeing that little one in her school uniform. It must be absolutely terrible for her.

“But in some ways, that’s what we play on. This is what they are putting their families through by getting involved in crime.”

n Parents should call the youth engagement team on 020 7421 0537 if concerned about their children.