Growing unrest across Islington after teen’s moped death
- Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson
Appeals for calm while investigation into police role in tragedy is completed
Fears of serious unrest are growing in the aftermath of a teenager’s death following a moped crash, which sparked a police probe.
Henry Hicks, 18, died on December 19 when his black Vespa scooter hit a car on Wheelwright Street, near the junction of Roman Way, Holloway. He had driven off after being approached by two police officers, who are thought to have then followed him in a car with their blue lights flashing. He was rushed to hospital but died soon after.
Later that night a group of about 20 angry young people went to the scene and confronted police who were securing the area. They were dispersed but one 17-year-old was arrested, and is currently on police bail.
Since then graffiti saying ‘Police killed Henry Hicks’ has sprung up on walls across the borough, including libraries, HMP Pentonville, schools, GP surgeries and even a parked Islington Council van. Constant gatherings have taken place at the scene of Mr Hicks’ death – including two peaceful candlelight vigils of almost 500 people on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
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A Twitter account, Justice for Henry, has also been set up, already attracting about 400 followers.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an investigation into his death – as they always do in any death where police have some involvement – and are appealing for witnesses.
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But their inquiries can take a long time and people across the borough are calling for a quick resolution.
Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, said: “A group of young people are hurting and are distressed. This is a very shocking thing to happen.
“My hope is that calm will come from the outcome of the IPCC investigation and they will do everything to make that happen quickly.
“We can’t have a group of our people waiting and becoming suspicious that the police have caused this death.
“I’m very hopeful the truth will come out as quickly as possible. The family and these young people are hurting badly and everyone’s sympathy goes out to them. This is a terrible, tragic accident. People are hurt and angry, and we will do what we can to help them deal with what happened.”
Chf Sup Gerry Campbell, Islington’s Borough Commander, said: “I offer my sincere condolences to Henry’s family and friends at this difficult time.
“I fully support the IPCC’s independent investigation. I understand that people may be upset and angry about Henry’s death and the circumstances but I ask that people are calm and patient.”
The IPCC said they would conduct a “vigorous” investigation into Mr Hicks’ interaction with the police, whether a pursuit took place, whether officers complied with police policies on stopping people on scooters and how the teenager came to crash.
A witness appeal has been launched – anyone with information can call 0800 151 0019.
Mr Hicks died exactly two months after his pal Joe Walker, who was killed after a moped crash in Seven Sisters Road, Haringey, on October 19.