An emotional public meeting took place in Loughborough last night to discuss concerns around rising violent crime levels.
Conversation focused upon the fatal stabbing of Glendon Spence, 23, at the Marcus Lipton youth centre on 21 February. Soaring knife crime led to homicide rates in London reaching a 10-year high in 2018 and numbers have showed no signs of slowing this year.
The meeting was chaired by Abdul-Karim Abdullah, the chair of the Lambeth Safer Neighbourhood Board. Panel members included leader of Lambeth council, Cllr Jack Hopkins, Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes and Superintendent Ian Howells.
Abdullah opened the discussion by urging residents to realise that only a collective effort will tackle crime levels; he quoted the proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’
Hayes talked of the anger and grief in the community and was shocked the attack took place at Marcus Lipton, one of the boroughs most important initiatives. Head of the centre, Ira Campbell, was in attendance and singled out by Hayes for his tireless efforts in running a service that helps around 8,000 children.
Hayes admitted that there had been delays in deploying trauma support to witnesses but that this was now in place. The Lambeth Tigers Football Club had been holding a children’s training session at Marcus Lipton when Spence was chased into the centre and killed. She described knife crime as a national crisis and talked of her party’s efforts to get the government to respond appropriately.
Howells confirmed that two individuals had been charged with Spence’s murder and are awaiting trial. Two further individuals are under investigation. Howells conceded that police have work to do in Lambeth to improve youth engagement and the relationship with locals. He confirmed they are working with schools, charities and other local organisations to have a bigger impact in the borough.
When the floor opened for comments many residents took the opportunity to air their views. A notable contribution was made by David Marriott, the head coach of Lambeth Tigers. He witnessed the stabbing and criticised the police and ambulance response. Howell apologised that Marriot and 14 children from the football club had been kept in Marcus Lipton for nearly three hours after the attack.
At times tensions boiled over as locals made their feelings known. Lack of police numbers; increases in children being expelled from school; scarce funding for local charities and the rise of drug crime were all prominent discussion topics. Many residents talked of how important Marcus Lipton had been in their own childhoods and that it needed protection and resources immediately.
Before closing, Hayes bemoaned the government’s austerity agenda that has seen cuts to services and funding in Lambeth. She pledged to help any organisation in the borough to apply for extra cash. Hopkins said the council are committed to providing support and investment to individuals and organisations across the borough. He confirmed the council is working hard to reopen Marcus Lipton which has remained closed since last month’s murder.
If you have been affected by the attack at Marcus Lipton call Lambeth Talking Therapies on 0203 228 6747.