A man stabbed at Notting Hill Carnival in 2011. Photo: Getty.
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Teens fleeing warzones are fuelling violent crime in London, youth crime summit warned

The risk posed by traumatised asylum seekers was one of many themes identified at Labour's Youth Crime Summit in London today. 

Teenage refugees and asylum seekers fleeing warzones are fuelling violent crime across London, a youth crime summit hosted by Labour was warned today.

Gary Kelly, Detective Superintendent in Southwark, said: “The trauma of youngsters fleeing war-torn countries and coming here – I can’t overestimate the challenges that Syria and Libya will cause us across London.”

He identified youths aged between 13 and 16 as being at risk of adopting violent gang culture and falling into criminal activity. While they tend not to be affiliated with formal gangs – “they are much more chaotic” – Kelly explained “they are responsible for a wide range of violent crime, including robbery and burglary”.

He advised participants, including co-ordinators of gang diversion schemes, NGO workers and councillors, that the key to tackling gangs in the capital is disrupting their drug supply chains, which span as far afield as the south and south west coasts of the UK. “We need cross-border working, good governance and oversight to reduce that threat,” he said.

He added that he was concerned “young females are becoming involved in the supply chain and are at increased risk of sexual exploitation.”

Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North and shadow Home Office Minister, called for strong partnerships between local councils, police, probation services, but with “the community in the driving seat”. Gang violence and culture is “one of the most difficult problems” facing urban society, he said.

He harked back to his experience as head of Lambeth Council, which devolved control of youth crime services to a youth-steered trust, into which £3m was invested: “It was much more effective."

Reed said Labour wants to communicate with and reach out to frontline workers tackling youth and gang crime, in order to inform policy proposals that will be included in the party’s manifesto.

He told the assembled participants: “We need to turn politics on its head. Labour understands that. We want to share power if elected.”

The party will host up to five summits around the country over the summer as part of a “new, iterative process” of policy formation, before unveiling proposals for dealing with youth crime in the autumn.

Better job opportunities and training for young people was identified as integral to dissuading young men from dealing drugs and choosing a life of crime.

Eighteen-year-old Temi Mwale, founder of gang culture diversion scheme Get Outta The Gang, demanded more resources and effort be invested in long-term diversion workshop programmes to help angry young men break free from violent mindsets.

She summed up her motivation for establishing her youth group in a single sentence: “One of my childhood friends was shot", but continued: “Everybody has tragedies. It’s about moving forward.” 

Mwale later explained to Reed that the young people with whom she works feel disaffected by politics and mistrustful of politicians: “There’s this whole resentment. They have this blanket approach: ‘They [politicians] are all against us’.”

London is a tale of two cities, she told the Labour MP, making clear that there is a vast chasm between life for middle-class professionals and and life on an estate. “If you went out and got stabbed, that would be something very out of the ordinary for you. But there are young people going out of the house every day who expect to die.”

Lucy Fisher writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2013. She tweets @LOS_Fisher.

 

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If there’s no booze or naked women, what’s the point of being a footballer?

Peter Crouch came out with one of the wittiest football lines. When asked what he thought he would have been but for football, he replied: “A virgin.”

At a professional league ground near you, the following conversation will be taking place. After an excellent morning training session, in which the players all worked hard, and didn’t wind up the assistant coach they all hate, or cut the crotch out of the new trousers belonging to the reserve goalie, the captain or some senior player will go into the manager’s office.

“Hi, gaffer. Just thought I’d let you know that we’ve booked the Salvation Hall. They’ll leave the table-tennis tables in place, so we’ll probably have a few games, as it’s the players’ Christmas party, OK?”

“FECKING CHRISTMAS PARTY!? I TOLD YOU NO CHRISTMAS PARTIES THIS YEAR. NOT AFTER LAST YEAR. GERROUT . . .”

So the captain has to cancel the booking – which was actually at the Salvation Go Go Gentlemen’s Club on the high street, plus the Saucy Sporty Strippers, who specialise in naked table tennis.

One of the attractions for youths, when they dream of being a footballer or a pop star, is not just imagining themselves number one in the Prem or number one in the hit parade, but all the girls who’ll be clambering for them. Young, thrusting politicians have similar fantasies. Alas, it doesn’t always work out.

Today, we have all these foreign managers and foreign players coming here, not pinching our women (they’re too busy for that), but bringing foreign customs about diet and drink and no sex at half-time. Rotters, ruining the simple pleasures of our brave British lads which they’ve enjoyed for over a century.

The tabloids recently went all pious when poor old Wayne Rooney was seen standing around drinking till the early hours at the England team hotel after their win over Scotland. He’d apparently been invited to a wedding that happened to be going on there. What I can’t understand is: why join a wedding party for total strangers? Nothing more boring than someone else’s wedding. Why didn’t he stay in the bar and get smashed?

Even odder was the behaviour of two other England stars, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson. They made a 220-mile round trip from their hotel in Hertfordshire to visit a strip club, For Your Eyes Only, in Bournemouth. Bournemouth! Don’t they have naked women in Herts? I thought one of the points of having all these millions – and a vast office staff employed by your agent – is that anything you want gets fixed for you. Why couldn’t dancing girls have been shuttled into another hotel down the road? Or even to the lads’ own hotel, dressed as French maids?

In the years when I travelled with the Spurs team, it was quite common in provincial towns, after a Saturday game, for players to pick up girls at a local club and share them out.

Like top pop stars, top clubs have fixers who can sort out most problems, and pleasures, as well as smart solicitors and willing police superintendents to clear up the mess afterwards.

The England players had a night off, so they weren’t breaking any rules, even though they were going to play Spain 48 hours later. It sounds like off-the-cuff, spontaneous, home-made fun. In Wayne’s case, he probably thought he was doing good, being approachable, as England captain.

Quite why the other two went to Bournemouth was eventually revealed by one of the tabloids. It is Lallana’s home town. He obviously said to Jordan Henderson, “Hey Hendo, I know a cool club. They always look after me. Quick, jump into my Bentley . . .”

They spent only two hours at the club. Henderson drank water. Lallana had a beer. Don’t call that much of a night out.

In the days of Jimmy Greaves, Tony Adams, Roy Keane, or Gazza in his pomp, they’d have been paralytic. It was common for players to arrive for training still drunk, not having been to bed.

Peter Crouch, the former England player, 6ft 7in, now on the fringes at Stoke, came out with one of the wittiest football lines. When asked what he thought he would have been but for football, he replied: “A virgin.”

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 01 December 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Age of outrage