Southwark Council must give clear timelines to meet resident demands on Brandon Estate

News Desk (17 October, 2019) Columnists

‘People told me Clinton and his mother had moved to Kent to get away from gang trouble and to find a new way forward’

31615Harriet Harman

The Brandon Estate community in Camberwell is again facing unfathomable grief and distress after eighteen-year-old Clinton Evbota, a former resident of the estate, was stabbed to death in the centre of their estate on Grimsel Path on Thursday, October 10, writes Harriet Harman…

Clinton is the third young man who has been murdered on the Brandon Estate in just eighteen months after Rhyhiem Barton, aged seventeenm was killed in May 2018 and Siddique Kamara, aged 23, was killed in August 2018.

The morning after Clinton was killed I met up with the tenants’ association chairs and talked to residents on the estate with Cllr Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for community safety at Southwark Council.

People told me Clinton and his mother had moved to Kent to get away from gang trouble and to find a new way forward. He was studying hard for his A-Levels at college and had been working in a restaurant.

Residents are understandably angry and shaken at another dreadful, senseless waste of a young life.

The elderly residents feel traumatised and vulnerable after watching in horror from their tenant hall as Clinton fled from his attackers.

Children were making their way to school but having to go around police tape cordoning off part of their estate, which was now the scene of a terrible crime.

For families and the community who live on the Brandon this is not just a newspaper headline, this is their lives. For Clinton’s family, it’s their worst nightmare.

It is vital that the longstanding demands of the tenant’s association are met. They’ve been asking for CCTV. It’s installed, but not yet operational. And the trees that they’ve been asking to be cut back are still in full leaf.

The TRAs are the heart of the community and know what’s needed. They are holding a community meeting this week and Southwark Council will need to come with clear timelines on how they will meet their demands so the whole community can feel safer.

Council action is one important part of the picture, but the causes of this horrific violence are complex and have been developing over years.

Government cuts have hit every service, there are fewer after school clubs and holiday plays schemes, fewer support workers in schools and child and adolescent mental health are under strain.

These services are vital, especially for young people who are losing their way and are at risk of getting into trouble.

In every area there should be youth clubs and services for young people to help tackle knife crime and problems such as mental ill-health and school exclusions.

But no one single government department or public service can deal with this crisis.

It is time for the government to step up and provide focus and leadership. I’m backing the demand of the cross-party parliamentary group on knife crime, chaired by Croydon MP Sarah Jones, for the Government to start tackling knife violence as a public health issue.

This means putting in place a multi-agency approach with clear measurable targets, backed with proper resources and based on the principle that violence is not inevitable.

One practical example of this would be to embed youth workers in A&E departments to work intensively with young people who arrive with knife wounds at the crisis point when they are most likely to be able to be steered away from future violence.

Southwark is a great place to live. But too many young people are dying violent deaths. This is a national crisis. We need leadership and more resources from government, and an end to the cuts.

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