Gangs ‘exploiting’ youth in Redbridge

Participants at the Redbridge Equality Forum

Participants at the Redbridge Equality Forum - Credit: Archant

Young men are being exploited by gang leaders who “glamorise” the life of crime with promises of cash and girls, a top police officer has warned.

At the quarterly Redbridge Equalities Forum, Ch Insp John Fish said knife crime had increased in the borough, with police stepping up stops and searches.

But he came under fire after admitting police were targeting young black people.

Ch Insp Fish said: “We are targeting black youths – does it save lives? 100 per cent.

“You are more likely to be searched if you are black or Pakistani, two times more likely.

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“It is disproportionate. If anybody at any point turns around and says ‘I will not search them because of ethnicity’ that is wrong.

“It is a problem, it is a social inequality.

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“They are being exploited [by gang leaders] because of their circumstances. They are being told of the glamour, lots of cash, loads of girls.”

He said drug and violence in Redbridge was almost exclusively controlled by people from other boroughs, and said the Hainault area was a particular magnet for crime.

“We swept an estate and found three weapons, one of them was a nine inch knife – if you hadn’t taken that knife off the street it could have been used to kill someone,” he said.

“I know stop and search is working, as people aren’t carrying them but hiding them.”

Speaking at the meeting at Redbridge Equalities and Community Council (RECC), Woodford Avenue, Gants Hill, Liberal Democrat GLA candidate Ashburn Holder questioned the tactic of targeting young black men.

Diana Neslen, of RECC, asked why the police were searching black people generally as Law-abiding black youths were being picked up in this net.

Speaking after the meeting, Tom Sackville, from the charity Catch22, agreed with police.

“Young people are attracted to crime not because they are bad, but because they don’t see alternative ways to make money, gain status and progress,” he said.

“To solve the gangs crisis, we must raise the aspirations of these young men and women.”

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