Top police officer admits force has 'lost control of the streets'

The escalating violence has been especially acute in the capital and has sparked widespread concern. (PA)

The police have “lost control” of London’s streets, a former senior officer claimed as six more stabbings blighted the capital in one day.

Victor Olisa, the Met Police’s former head of diversity and head of policing in Tottenham, told the Guardian: “It appears to people I have spoken to as though the police have lost control of public spaces and the streets. The silence from senior officers in the Met is deafening.”

His comments come as a 30-year-old man was arrested over the murder of Tanesha Melbourne-Blake.

Concerns are growing over escalating violence that is especially acute in the capital.

More than 50 people have been killed in the city since the start of the year – more than 35 of whom were fatally stabbed.

The attacks have added to the UK’s soaring rate of knife crime, with fatal stabbings in England and Wales at their highest levels since 2010/11.

Violence – there were six more stabbings in London on Thursday as its violent crime wave continued (Picture: PA)

The pressure on murder detectives is now so great that Scotland Yard has enlisted the support of City of London police to help cope with the caseload.

The latest stabbings came as protesters rallied in Hackney to call for an end to gang violence.

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The protests took place close to where 18-year-old Israel Ogunsola was stabbed to death on Wednesday evening.

A pair of 17-year-olds were arrested late on Wednesday evening on suspicion of murder.

Protests – protestors rallied in Hackney, near to where 18-year-old Israel Ogunsola was stabbed to death on Wednesday evening, to call for an end to gang violence (Picture: PA)

The incidents

In the latest spate, six youths were attacked within 90 minutes on Thursday.

In the first, at around 12.50pm, a man believed to be in his 20s was stabbed in Billet Road, Walthamstow.

At around 5.30pm, a 15-year-old boy was found stabbed in East India Dock Road, Poplar, east London.

Shortly after, at around 6pm, two 15-year-olds were seriously hurt after being stabbed in Grove Road, Mile End, east London.

Spate – six more stabbings took place on Thursday (Picture: PA)

Shortly before 7pm, a 13-year-old boy was seriously wounded in Newham, east London.

And across the city, a youth in his late teens was stabbed in Ealing Broadway, west London, at around 7pm.

Police have made five arrests over the stabbings of the two 15-year-old boys and the 13-year-old boy.

A male whose age is not known is being held over attempted murder and a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of conspiracy to commit GBH in connection with the stabbing of the two 15-year-olds.

And police said three “juvenile” males have been arrested on suspicion of GBH after the 13-year-old boy was stabbed.

It also emerged that Mile End Park in east London, where three of teenagers were stabbed, was branded a “no go area” for police as residents said they were “not surprised” by the bloodshed.

A 52-year-old man, who has lived in the area for 40 years but did not give his name, said: “You don’t go over there at night – not even the police go over there at night.

“If the police go over there they start a riot. It’s a no go, it’s got that way.”

Father Brian Ralph, from the Parish Church of St Barnabus, which overlooks the scene, said: “These things around London and east London have been happening for years and it’s only now people are starting to address it.

“We have got good youth workers but unfortunately they have had cuts over the years.”

Meanwhile, a man was arrested over the murder of a 53-year-old who died outside a bookmakers in Hackney on Wednesday afternoon. He was due to be interviewed by detectives from City of London Police.

Click the image below to see many of London’s victims this year.

The victims

Israel Ogunsola, 18, was found stabbed to death in Link Street, Hackney, by officers on patrol at around 8pm on Wednesday and was pronounced dead 25 minutes later.

Two 17-year-olds were arrested late on Wednesday evening on suspicion of murder, the Metropolitan Police said.

His father Dele Ogunsola, who lives on the nearby Jack Dunning Estate, confirmed on Thursday afternoon that his teenage son was the victim.

Israel’s death followed that of Tanesha Melbourne, 17, who was gunned down in Tottenham, north London, on Monday.

A 30-year-old man has been arrested over the murder of Tanesha Melbourne-Blake, 17, on Monday.

Scotland Yard said the man was arrested on Friday morning at an address in the E9 area of London on suspicion of murder.

Eyewitnesses have described the moment 17-year-old Tanesha died in her mother’s arms after the shooting in Chalgrove Road, Tottenham, north London just before 9.30pm on Monday.

Her brother Hakeem Blake has since paid tribute to the teenager, telling the BBC she was in “the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Tanesha and Israel were friends on Facebook.

On Tuesday, 16-year-old Amaan Shakoor became the youngest murder victim in London so far this year after he was also shot on Monday in Walthamstow, east London – just 30 minutes after Tanesha was killed.

‘The worst violence I’ve ever seen’

As concerns rose over the spate of violent crime in London, it emerged that police in the capital investigated more murders than their New York counterparts did over the last two months.

There were 15 murders in London in February against 14 in New York, according to London’s Metropolitan Police Service and the New York Police Department.

And in March, police in London investigated 22 murders, compared to 21 reports in New York.

Violence – David Lammy said violence on London’s streets is the “worst I’ve ever seen it” (Picture: PA)

Labour former minister David Lammy, who has been MP for Tottenham for 18 years, described violence on the streets of London as the “worst I’ve ever seen it”.

Mr Lammy told the BBC there was “absolutely no sign” of any reduction in violence and voiced concerns that drugs are causing turf wars between gangs.

He said: “I’ve been an MP now for 18 years and I’m afraid what we’re seeing today is the worst I’ve ever seen it.

“I’ve had four deaths in the London Borough of Haringey since January, I’ve had as many knife attacks as there have been weeks in the year.

“There are parents, friends, families, schools, traumatised and grieving, and there is absolutely no sign, I’ve got to tell you at the moment, of reduction in the violence.”

He added: “Drugs are prolific – it’s like Deliveroo, they’re as prolific as ordering a pizza.

“You can get them on Snapchat, WhatsApp – that, in the end, is driving the turf war and it’s driving the culture of violence – that is obviously ramped up by social media – but the culture of violence that I think is now becoming endemic in parts of London.”

Mr Lammy called on London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Government to have a clear consensus on reducing violence.

“Communities have to step up and people have to take responsibility, parents have to take responsibility and I’m not one to shirk that, but communities need support and resources if they are to do this, and the Government and the Mayor need to be clear with a consensus that their ambition is to reduce violence across this city.”

Heartbreaking – Mayor of London Sadiq Khan criticised the government for cuts to the policing budget (Picture: PA)

Mr Khan said the rising number of murders on the capital’s streets was “heartbreaking” and criticised the government for cuts to the policing budget.

Saying that “one murder is one too many”, he said: “Since 2014 we have seen an increase in violent crime in London and across the country.

“Already in the last seven years we have lost £700 million from the policing budget. Over the next three years the Government plans to cut another £300 million. That’s a billion pounds worth of cuts.

“So my message to the Government is please work with us to solve this national problem.”

How are police tackling the problem?

The pressure on murder detectives is now so great that Scotland Yard has enlisted the support of City of London police to help cope with the caseload.

The Metropolitan Police is working with social media firms to identify violent posts that provoke retaliation attacks from rival gangs, a senior officer has said.

It comes after ABritain’s most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, warned that trivial disputes online can escalate “within minutes”.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty said police would be working with social media platforms to try to identify material that glamorises violence and is often deliberately posted to provoke a response from another gang in a bid to prevent crimes happening in the first place.

Taskforce – a senior police officer has revealed a taskforce is being set up to deal with soaring violent crime in London (Picture: PA)

He also revealed details of a taskforce being introduced to deal with the increase in violent crimes in London.

He said 120 officers will focus on boroughs where knife crime has gone up and where there has been an increase in murders, to try to deal with the individuals or gangs committing those crimes, as well as looking for evidence in social media posts.

He emphasised that the focus would be on targeting “individuals who are violent”.

Asked why this was not already being done, he added: “I think we do do some of this stuff anyway.

“But what this new group allows us to do is dedicate and ring-fence resources, so it gives us a real opportunity so that they are not distracted with other crime types or other issues, and they can really focus on getting their expertise up in tackling these individuals and focusing in removing them from public environments where they can cause harm to communities.”

On Wednesday the Home Office said Home Secretary Amber Rudd would press social media platforms to step up their response in the wake of the recent crime wave in London.

A spokesman said: “The instant nature of social media also means that plans develop rapidly and disputes can escalate very quickly.

“The Government, voluntary sector and other partners are working with social media companies to ensure measures deliver real results and raise the level of online safety for users.”


(Top picture: Getty)