It's slightly south of the SE11 area, but I was horrified to read the SLP report of 6 people shot/stabbed on Vassall Road yesterday at about 21:30 yesterday. The SLP also state that the youngest victim was 14, but this contradicts the following from Stockwell Park Neighbourhood Watch.
Stockwell Park Neighbourhood Watch have stated that two of the victims were stabbed at about 20:41 on Cowley Road. An ambulance was called, and whilst the crew were attending, two youths on bikes cycled past and firde several shots on a hand gun. Consequently, four additional people were injured. None of the injuries are life threatening and the ambulance crew remained unharmed. After initial assessment, the police believe the incident was gang related and that none of the victims were "neutral". (I take that to mean that they were innocent bystanders). The victims are said to be within the age range of 16-18. No suspects have been detained and police presence in the area will remain high to deter further violence.
I regularly defend this part of South London as a safe place to live against voices to the contrary. Violence around here is sporadic and usually not against innocent bystanders, but that doesn't excuse it. Sometimes the distance between Cleaver Square and Vassall Road seems huge. Lambeth Council currently spend money on youth and anti-gang activities, and yet such funding is at risk in our new Big Society. Does the funding make any difference? After each stabbing or shooting, I always ask, "what can we do?". And I'll keep asking it because I don't want us to stop being shocked.
As residents, bloggers, commuters and workers, what are our options to prevent young people from turning to crime? What do we do about the disparity between the haves and have nots? Is it disparity that is the problem here? Are the residents who live in relative poverty having a chance to meet the residents who are affluent? Where is the forum in which we can discuss these issues? We have neighbourhood groups and residents associations, blogs, and newspapers, but how often do we meet people who are different from us? Is our response to stay in after dark and to keep our heads down when we walk along our streets? Do we know the young people in our midst, and how might our neighbourhood be a community that shares its gifts?
I maintain that these stabbings and shootings are not what define our area. We're defined by our friendliness and our openness to celebrate and share cultural differences. We're defined by the number of community groups and "friends of" groups that are regularly set up in our midst. And then something like this happens, and we talk of youth, gangs, drugs, opportunities and education, but I'm not sure if we're seeing any change. When we needed the Big Society, were you there, were you there?
For an 18th January update on this incident, please continue reading at Stockwell News.
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