False gang crime stats?

Tributes to murdered Hackney teenager Godwin Nii Lawson, photo: Kieron Yates

Tory mayoral candidate Andrew Boff believes the level of gang-related crime in Hackney is higher than shown in figures recently released by the Metropolitan Police.

Mr Boff  responded to the publication of annual statistics which show a 29 per cent increase in gun-related crime across the borough:  “So much gang-related crime goes unreported,” he said, “the figures are almost irrelevant.”

He expressed concern at police ‘heavy-handedness’ but called for tougher sentences on youths involved in gang violence: “I believe the full weight of the law should come down on people who use violence.”

Mr Boff  did have sympathy for the police in their efforts to combat the problem. “To be fair, they do understand most of the issues,” he said, “but they are having to fill gaps the council have left because they are not investing.”

Andrew Boff on the importance of good youth clubs

Currently a London Assembly member, Mr Boff  is running for the Hackney mayoral office for a third time. He lives in London Fields, Hackney, where gang violence has been a particular problem in recent years. Mr Boff runs youth evenings in South Hackney and believes a lack of youth services is the main reason why the figures are rising.

“The young people in Hackney are being seriously neglected,” he said, and called for council investment in more youth clubs and activities. “It must be the worst youth service in London.”

The shrine to 19-year-old Michael McCarthy, killed in Stoke Newington, November 2009. Photo: Tony Collins

Earlier in the week the borough’s top police officer, Chief Superintendent Steve Bending, said that gun-related incidents, such as the recent killing of sixteen-year-old Agnes Sina-Inakoju in Hoxton, are ‘extremely rare’. Agnes had been involved in setting up the Consequences project at The Crib in Hackney, a scheme aimed at making local teenagers realise the consequences of their actions.

Mr Boff  believes such projects offer an informal environment for teenagers to relax and work on their potential skills with experienced youth workers.

“There are good people out there in the field trying to improve the lives of these young people but they are not being given the tools to do the job… all their good will is being wasted because the council can’t engage with them.”

Two men have been charged with the murder of Agnes Sina-Inakoju.

Two men have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Michael McCarthy and are expected to be tried at the Central Criminal Court in September this year.

The confirmed candidates for the Hackney mayoral election 2010 are : Andrew Boff (Conservatives);  Mischa Borris (Green Party);  Adrian Gee-Turner (Liberal Democrats);  Monty Goldman (Communist Party of Britain);  Jules Pipe (Labour Party);  William Alexander Thompson (The Christian Party).

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