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Wells Park Road murder – more needs to be done to tackle serious youth violence locally 6 July 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Police, Young people.
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This is an extended version of a story which appears in the July – August 2014 Forest Hill Focus

We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of James Hunter, who was murdered in Wells Park Road, Sydenham, on May 31st. Residents told us of their worries about crime in precisely this area. It is really important that these concerns are taken seriously and, now that Sydenham Police Station is closed, that there is a local and well advertised place where people can talk to the police.

Lib Dem campaigner Margot Wilson said: “I have been in contact with the local police about what plans they have to patrol the area and what early intervention projects there are. They have told me that they are currently in discussion with the council about further events around youth engagement in the area following feedback from two meetings at the TNG in the days after the murder. I am concerned that while there are projects to counteract serious youth violence in others parts of London, there appear to be none in Lewisham.”

Duwayne Brooks, Lib Dem candidate in the election for Mayor of Lewisham, described his heartache at being told of another death among our young people and offered his condolences to the families:

“For years, I have been trying to highlight the issue of serious youth violence in our borough but it has been constantly denied and I have been continuously blocked. I tried to implement an early intervention procedure to help target those nine to thirteen year olds who get caught with the wrong groups. I was told it’s not needed. Now we have another unnecessary death where a number of families will be in pain for something that was and is preventable.”

The Focus Team had contacted Lewisham Homes about the possible gating of blocks on Wells Park Road earlier in May, after the issue was raised by a local resident we called on. Lewisham Homes told us that they do not currently have funding to install door entry systems. They can only repair and maintain existing systems. However they do intend to work more closely with residents through consultation to agree improvements to estates. This plan is in the very early stages and subject to approval and funding, but if it goes ahead residents will be invited to put forward their suggestions.

The Focus Team have written to Lewisham Council requesting a 24 hour monitored CCTV camera be placed on Wells Park Road. While this would be council-controlled and funded the police would also have access to it and it would provide a valuable supplement to their patrols in the area.

The police have been working on expanding neighbourhood watch schemes generally in and around Forest Hill. If you would be interested in getting involved let us know and we can pass your details on.

Residents in the Sydenham part of the ward should be aware that the Police have drop in centres at the Sainsbury’s Savacentre, Southend Lane, Sydenham, SE26 4PU, on Wednesday 7-8pm, Thursday 7-8pm and Saturday 2-3pm. They can otherwise be contacted at Catford Hill Police Station.

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