Increased police presence follows spate of murders

Metropolitan Police and Haringey Council outline plans to tackle violent crime

Floral tribute for Gabriel Bringye Credit: Lydia Odelana

By Luchia Robinson

The police have increased their presence in Tottenham following a spate of murders which have raised concerns about the rates of violent crime in the area.

Officers are intensifying their focus on gang activity, conducting more stop and searches as well as weapons sweeps, issuing more arrest warrants, and increasing community engagement.

To date four people have been killed in Haringey since the start of the year − all four incidents happening in Tottenham.

Tyreke Watson, 21, was chased and fatally stabbed in an attack, in February. Despite attempts to save his life, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

17-year-old Anas Mezenner and another male were found with stab injuries in January. Anas died; the other victim’s injuries were not life threatening.

Both Tyreke and Anas were stabbed in West Green Road, N15.

In February, Gabriel Bringye, 37, was stabbed and killed in Jarrow Road, N17. The police had been called to the scene after concerns an injured man had been found unresponsive inside a car at the location.

Last month three men were attacked in Penshurst Road, N17. 19-year-old Nikolay Vandev died from a fatal wound. The injuries suffered by the two other male victims, both 18, were not life threatening.

These murders and violent attacks have happened despite a recent report detailing total crime across the Metropolitan Police’s North Area Basic Command Unit (covering Haringey and Enfield), having dropped by 10% during the past 12 months since the pandemic restrictions were set in place − knife crime falling by 43% and violence with injury down by 12% as a result.

Speaking to the Evening Standard in February, Oneica Williams, 23, the pregnant girlfriend of Tyreke Watson (who is expecting their child next month) said: “Tyreke was an amazing partner and did his best to make me happy. He was excited about being a father. Not only do his family and I deserve justice, but so does our unborn child.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Treena Fleming, who is responsible for policing in Haringey, said: “My deepest sympathies lie with the family and friends of those who have lost their lives in this tragic way.

“My top priority remains tackling violent crime in our community – as one person killed or injured is one person too many.

“But the police can’t do this on our own – my teams and I are working closely with the local authority, education and the health system to come together to prevent our young people getting involved in crime, recklessly carrying knives and getting killed on the streets of Haringey.

“It is vital that we share information and work together if we want to keep crime levels down and put an end to this mindless violence that we have already experienced in Haringey this year.

“Stop and search is one important police tactic that will help us take dangerous weapons and knives off the streets but we need the help of our communities to do this so that we are intelligence led and targeted in our efforts.

“Whilst last year did see a drop in the violent crime levels as we’ve been in and out of lockdown, it is clear that we now need to work even harder to stop the violence. Our communities can therefore expect to see more officers on our streets, a renewed focus on gang activity, more weapons sweeps, arrest warrants and more engagement with the community to make Haringey a safe place for all.”

At the time of going to print, all but one of the people charged for the deaths of Anas, Tyreke, Gabriel and Nikolay are teenagers; 13 youths in total aged 14-18.

It is anticipated that there could be a rise in crime as lockdown lifts into the summer and the council’s community safety team is working alongside the police and partners to put plans in place to avoid an escalation in violence.

Haringey Council’s cabinet member for communities, Cllr Mark Blake said: “My thoughts are very much with the families of these victims. We believe any act of violent crime, especially when it leads to a fatality, is one too many and we at the council work closely with the police and others as well as the communities we serve to deter young people from getting involved in illegal activity.”

Cllr Blake says the council’s Young People at Risk Strategy aims to support vulnerable youth within the borough from violence, abuse and exploitation, and that the North Area Violence Reduction Group is leading on the delivery of the borough’s action plan to reduce non-domestic violent crime. This includes working with schools to reduce exclusions and the introduction of two new targeted youth teams delivering whole family working where young people are at risk of offending behaviour or at risk of exploitation.

Haringey Community Gold − a scheme led by the council and a network of community partners offers detached youth work and community programmes such as sport provision, employment support and mental health support.

The council was recently awarded £750,000 from the My Ends programme from London’s Violence Reduction Unit which will be used to build upon the Haringey Community Gold projects. It will also go toward helping tackle violence and youth crime in Tottenham Hale by supporting young people and their families to develop their own initiatives to bring about positive change where they live as well as provide more opportunities for them in the area.

Speaking of these targeted preventions, Cllr Blake said: “All of these endeavours in very difficult financial circumstances highlight our continued commitment to address serious youth violence. However, what is missing is a clear overarching national strategy and commitment from central government.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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