BBC BLOGS - Guy Smith's Met Matters

Archives for March 2010

Child's play

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Guy Smith | 14:37 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

Act One

Scene 1:

Twelve teenagers are charged with murder following an attack in Victoria Station. A 15-year-old has been repeatedly stabbed near the ticket office of the District and Circle Line. It's late Thursday afternoon. Eyewitnesses say they saw children in school uniforms.

Scene 2:

Less than two days later, three young men are stabbed in a park in Stamford Hill, north London, in what's believed to be a gang-related fight. A 17-year-old boy doesn't survive.

The play though doesn't end there. It's to be continued, predictably when the stage is set for yet more violence.

However, these two fatal incidents were not rehearsals. They were tragically very real.

And once again more parents will suffer the trauma of losing a loved one.

Statistically, the latest teenage murders make a total of five so far this year. If you compare that to the same period in 2009, then it's more or less the same. In fact, last year the murder rate more than halved from a high of 29 violent deaths in 2008. Most involved knives.

So the problem may have improved but not gone away.

It's one for the politicians to debate. But one thing is abundantly clear, these deaths were certainly not child's play.

Wall of silence

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Guy Smith | 09:32 UK time, Thursday, 25 March 2010

"Can you again live with the fact that because of your silence another innocent child may lose their life?"

Those are the words of Kristina Caesar, whose son was murdered three years ago. His killer has never been charged.

Fifteen-year-old Adam Regis was stabbed to death in Plaistow in east London on March 17, 2007.

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She said: "It saddens me to think that this is what our society has to live with.

"Please break the silence for the sake of your sons and daughters even though it is too late for my Adam."

Today, a conference at Newham Town Hall focused on so-called "snitching". It's a topic I've covered many times before.

Murder investigations particularly into teenage murders often hit a wall of silence.

The reasons given why no one comes forward include peer pressure, negative experiences with police and fear of reprisals.

Yet Kristina Caesar questions whether it is something more. She asks: "What has become of our communities?"

Are you a have-a-go hero?

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Guy Smith | 17:54 UK time, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Picture this: you're getting off the bus and a woman is lying on the ground in front of you with a teenager standing over her.

He's pulling at her handbag, breaks free and runs off.

Do you chase after him? Or do you walk on by?

MrObinwa.jpg

Well, that's the decision 27-year-old Ifreanyi Obinwa had to make in Edgware one afternoon in August last year.

I'm sure many of us would have minded our own business. Ifreanyi didn't. He ran after the robber.

Unfortunately, he lost sight of him. He didn't give up. He asked a fellow Londoner who pointed in the direction of someone running.

Ifreanyi continued, finally catching up with the suspect in an alleyway. The man was emptying the contents of the bag.

Ifreanyi confronted him and they started to grapple on the ground. The suspect, however, escaped. Ifreanyi again sprinted after him and this time held him while calling the police.

But it didn't end there. A car pulled up and three men jumped out. They were the suspect's friends. Ifreanyi luckily wasn't hurt but the robber escaped.

When Met Police officers arrived, he took them back to the alleyway where key DNA evidence was found. It later led detectives to 19-year-old Michael Sarpong who had little choice but to plead guilty and was sentenced at Harrow Crown Court.

Now this is a strikingly similar story to one in East London.

You may remember Sukhwinder Singh. He chased after thieves who had snatched a woman's handbag in Barking in January. But tragically he was stabbed in the heart and died.

Clearly both men showed extraordinary bravery and courage. Some might describe their actions as foolhardy.

Others may say their selfless disregard for their own safety is the behaviour of heroes.

If you were in their position, what would you do?

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