London stabbings: Man killed and another fighting for life after seven attacks in seven hours

Lizzie Dearden
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Knife crime hits highest level since records began

On a day that saw seven stabbings over the course of just seven hours in London, one man was knifed to death on a high street in the northwest of the capital.

The 21-year-old victim was attacked by a gang of men on Harlesden High Street and fled into a bookmaker’s in an attempt to get help.

Witnesses said he was ambushed by a group who jumped out of a car shortly after 9pm on Tuesday night.

“I’ve seen the guy who died out there before, it looked like they knew who they were looking for,” a man told London's Evening Standard newspaper. “The injuries were terrible; people were vomiting because of the extent of the wound.”

Scotland Yard said an ambulance was called and the man was taken to hospital. He died in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Detectives believe the suspects arrived in two cars and blocked traffic in order to carry out the attack, and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Detective Chief Inspector Glen Lloyd said: “We know that the suspects blocked the road; this would have held up a number of vehicles including a Route 18 bus. Were you on this bus at 9pm?

“I would ask that anyone who filmed the assault on a mobile phone or who may have captured it on a dash cam to call us.

“It is important that we build up a picture of what happened on the High Street last night.”

Seven men were arrested at the scene on suspicion of offences including possession of an offensive weapon and attempted murder, and remain in custody.

Earlier that evening, a 28-year-old man was stabbed outside a Tesco in Wembley. He remains in critical condition.

Five other victims were stabbed in another part of Harlesden, Morden and West Drayton, where the first attack took place at around 3pm.

“His injuries are not believed to be life changing or life threatening,” a spokesperson for Scotland Yard said.

Two men were taken to hospital at around 8pm with knife injuries following a fight in Harlesden and another man in Merton was hospitalised after he was found with stab wounds.

Forensic officers and police at the scene in Stoke Newington, north-east London after a man was stabbed to death on 17 April (PA)

A 17-year-old boy was also found with stab wounds two miles away in Mitcham.

The spate of attacks came after the government awarded police forces including Scotland Yard shares of £51m extra funding to fight violent crime.

The Home Office said the money would fund more patrols, weapon sweeps and officer overtime starting over Easter, after the 2018 holiday saw a spate of brutal street murders in London.

But the extra funding was dismissed as “loose change” by critics, who pointed out that chancellor Philip Hammond had announced £100m last month.

On Wednesday, the Home Office announced that a new “social media hub” aiming to tackle gang-related online content would be operating fully by the end of May.

Sajid Javid said: “Social media is increasingly being used as a platform to incite violence, promote gang culture and legitimise the use of knives. I will not let this continue.

“Tech firms have been making progress in tackling this harmful content, but more needs to be done. Our Online Harms White Paper will ensure they have a legal duty to protect their users and by meeting routinely, in forums like the Serious Violence Taskforce, we can continue to hold these companies to account.

“But we also need the strongest possible law enforcement response. The national police social media hub will ensure a team of dedicated officers are identifying and taking action against gang-related content.”

It came after a controversial crackdown on drill music videos, which the government has accused of fuelling stabbings and shootings.

Duncan Ball, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service and the national policing lead on gangs, said social media was “escalating violence between young people and enabling content that glamorises or encourages violence and crime”.

“By working together with social media companies we will ensure that material that lures young people into a dangerous, violent life of crime, and encourages violence is quickly dealt with to cut off this outlet for gangs and criminals,” he added.

The government’s Serious Violence Strategy cites drug dealing and social media as key drivers, but police have called for more funding to turn around the loss of thousands of officers and voluntary groups have attacked cuts to youth services.

Google and Facebook leaders appeared at a Serious Violence Taskforce meeting to update police and MPs on how they are tackling videos promoting violence.

The government is currently consulting on proposals to create a new statutory duty of care on social media companies and an independent regulator appointed to enforce the new standards.

There were 285 homicides caused by a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales in 2017-18 – the highest number since records started in 1946.

In the year to September, police recorded around 1.5 million “violence against the person” offences – a jump of nearly a fifth on the previous 12 months.

Any witnesses or those with information are asked to call police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.