Brent Council axed gun crime chief days before Harlesden train station shooting
Peace campaigner claims decision to make the post redundant is poorly judged
Council chiefs axed the borough’s gun and knife crime co-ordinator role days before a man was shot at Harlesden train station on Wednesday.
Last week it was revealed that the position, which is currently held by Loretta Scott, will be made redundant next month.
The role was created in 2004 after Brent became the ‘gun crime capital’ of the country following a series of high-profile fatal shooting including the murder of seven-year-old Toni-Ann Byfield in Kensal Green.
Since taking over the position in 2007, Ms Scott has been heavily involved in proactive anti-violent crime projects across the borough, and has been an integral part of the annual Not Another Drop (NAD) peace march which began in 2004 and was quietly shelved last year.
In the last few years, gun crime in Brent has plummeted but Harlesden was thrust back into the limelight after the shooting of the 27-year-old who lives in south London.
The victim was in a group on their way home when he was shot in the back as he entered the station foyer.
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Detectives investigating the shooting believe the group was targeted by several local youths who they had clashed with at a shop near the station minutes before.
Despite his injuries the victim boarded a train and travelled the next stop up to Willesden Junction where he collapsed on the platform.
He was rushed to hospital where he in a stable condition.
His injuries are not life threatening.
Patrick Jacobs, chair of NAD, Brent’s biggest anti-violent crime organisation, told the Times Wednesday’s shooting shows the decision to axe Ms Scott was poorly judged.
He said: “The decision smacks of complacency because although gun crime is not as big an issue in Brent like it used to be this latest shooting show it is still there.
“The council needs to remember that there is a historical legacy of gun crime in Brent and the community have been through a lot in the last 10 years so it shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet.
“The incident at Harlesden train station shows gun crime has not been eradicated in the borough and it still needs someone to tackle the issue in the community.”
Brent Council’s Youth Offending Service team are expected to take over Ms Scott’s duties.
A spokeswoman for Brent Council told the Times: “This post was joint funded by the police and Brent Council from a government grant used to develop Not Another Drop.
“The grant has since been withdrawn and Not Another Drop is now a limited company, any remaining duties will be carried out by other services in the council.”
Ms Scott will step down from her post on April 1.
Anyone with any information about the shooting on Wednesday should contact the British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 and quote incident 296 of 09/03/10 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.