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Anger as gun crime group is disbanded

PUBLISHED: 13:24 29 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:15 24 August 2010

by Alex Wellman and Lorraine King A dedicated campaigner has been sacked during the funeral of the borough s latest shooting victim before being told a vital anti-gun crime project was suspended. Earl Dinham, chairman of the Not Another

by Alex Wellman and Lorraine King

A dedicated campaigner has been sacked during the funeral of the borough's latest shooting victim before being told a vital anti-gun crime project was suspended.

Earl Dinham, chairman of the Not Another Drop (NAD) community network, was told by Superintendent Simon Corkill, Brent Police, that the group had been frozen for six months and an interim chair would be put in place during a phone call as he paid respects to the family of Wayne Freckleton.

Wayne, 25, from Church End Estate, was gunned down in Ike's barber shop in Acton Lane, Harlesden, on April 25 and his funeral was held on Friday (23).

Mr Dinham said: "They have been trying to push me out for a while and they have finally got what they wanted.

"I have worked tirelessly in the borough and even gone on police operations to help explain to the community what is being done and why.

"I will continue to fight against gun crime in Brent despite this setback."

According to Mr Dinham, everyone but himself was told about the changes through an email from Supt Corkill, who is the chairman for the Not Another Drop steering group.

Mrs Hopwood-Clarke has been at the forefront of tackling gun crime since her son Kavian was brutally murdered in April 2003 and is also the driving force behind the annual Not Another Drop Peace March.

Mrs Hopwood-Clarke said: "They did not sack me from the group but they might just as well have done as they know I would not stay without Earl.

"He has handed out thousands of Not Another Drop badges to young men and got to know them and gain their respect.

"These are just the sort of people we need to engage and all that work could now be for nothing."

Kola Williams, charity worker, said: "They had better hope that during this time not one person even falls over and cuts their little finger.

"What they have done is crazy. No one in the police or council has gone to the community like Earl has.

"Did any of them make an effort to support Wayne's family when he died, or help find a church or organise anything?

"It was all left to Earl. He is the difference between community involvement and cronyism. They will live to regret this decision."

Supt Corkill defended his decision to call Earl during the funeral.

He said: "I'm not the keeper of Earl, what he chooses to do in his personal time. If he chooses to answer a phone during a funeral then that is up to him.

"I wanted a personal conversation with him and a phone call was the right thing to do as opposed to sending an email.

"This is about giving the community network a firm footing which in my view it does not have.

"The chair has never properly been elected and this is the chance to do that. If Earl wants to put himself up again at the time then he can and if he is elected he will be the chair.

"The group is not shutting down, the function continues. We are just giving people on the group a breather.

"I want a vibrant charity group where everyone volunteering can get involved. We need more people. We want it bigger and better."

Jean Ross, NAD member and mother of Daniel Ross, 22, who was shot and killed in the Scala nightclub in Kings Cross in September 2006, said the pair had not been sacked and defended the decision to freeze the group saying it was a chance to take the project forward.

Mrs Ross said: "At the re-launch Simon made it clear that there was a move to change the network to a separate entity from the steering group, and by doing so the current group had to be dissolved to make way for a more formal NAD group.

"To help them to do that they had invested money to capacity building sessions in order to hone in on the skills of the group to make us stronger and better able to take NAD forward in a more formal manner.

"Earl and Patsy are still very valid members of NAD and their input is still very important for us."

Brent Council's gun, knife and gang crime co-ordinator, Lauretta Scott, will set up an interim community committee and install an interim chair for six months.

alex.wellman@archant.co.uk

lorraine.king@archant.co.uk

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