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Brent youths air their views on crime and gang culture blighting the borough

PUBLISHED: 10:59 12 April 2012

MP Stella Creasy and Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala with youths at Bang FM

MP Stella Creasy and Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala with youths at Bang FM

Jonathan Goldberg 07958 229 037

Stella Creasy MP, shadow home minister, attended event held in Harlesden

Youths in Brent were given a platform to air their views on crime amongst youths and gang culture as part of an MPs campaign to call for a mayor who will address the issue.

Around 20 young people packed into the Bang FM studios in Harlesden High Street, Harlesden, last night (Wednesday), to air their concerns.

They were joined by Stella Creasy MP, shadow home minster, who was in the borough as part of the Mayoral Youth Crime Pledge, which calls for the next Mayor of London to tackle youth crime.

The Walthamstow MP told the Times: “There is no point beating round the bush, there is gang culture that is prevalent here.

“A real concern is that only 17 per cent of our youths feel safe when out on the streets and that is something that has to be addressed.

“I want all young people to feel like they can air any concerns they have because at the moment they don’t have a voice.”

During the meeting youths spoke out about a variety of concerns including postcode wars, broken homes and a tendency for police to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ in giving youths a bad name.

The two-hour event was attended by members of community run station, Bang FM, and Brent Youth Parliament alongside a variety of students and residents.

Also in attendance were Ray and Vi Donovan, who have pledged their time to visiting deprived areas after their son Chris was killed by a gang of youths 10 years ago.

Speaking to the Times, Rashid Registe-Charles, who lives in Church Road, Harlesden, said not enough attention had been paid to young people in the borough.

The 21-year-old said: “All this money gets spent by central government but none of it goes to the right places, more needs to spent on projects to get young people off the street.

“Young people are pigeon holed and made to feel like everything is our fault when often it’s others who have failed us.”

Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala, Labour councillor for Stonebridge, who arranged the meeting, labelled youth crime as one of ‘the biggest issues’ in Brent.

He said: “This was a really important event. We are definitely at a tipping point.

“Do we just accept gangs and gang culture in Brent? Or do we say as a community this is something we will not tolerate.

“We are all trying to tackle this very difficult issue which needs time and resources.”

Former youth worker Miss Creasy has been frantically visiting authorities across London to discuss the issue but said that their message would not change regardless of who wins the election on May 3.

She said: “We are not saying it should be this mayor or that mayor but whoever it is needs to listen and finally address the issue because it is getting out of control.”

Residents from across London are invited to attend a rally on April 21 in Paddington which will mark the culmination of the campaign.

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