Hounded by gangs, failed by police

A schoolboy who has to wear a stab vest after being hounded by gangs for months says he has been failed by the police.

16-year-old Adrian – not his real name – was attacked in May by members of the Tufnell Park Gang at his secondary school in Camden.

“I feel scared when I’m out,” he says. “It’s never safe for me, and I’m scared for my brothers too.

Mother Sonia Clarke, 42 said: “Somebody claimed Adrian said something about one boy, but it was mistaken identity. He’s not the sort of person who goes looking for trouble.”

"Say No More" - threatening messages were graffitied to the family doorIn the following weeks, gang members came to Adrian’s home in Archway, demanding to fight him. His 14-year-old brother Oliver was also threatened. One gang member, known as ‘Hypes’, posted on Facebook: “Adrian and Oliver and da rest of da man that was there are f****d SNM [say no more]”.

Trouble continued throughout the summer and into September, when Adrian started a new school in Barnet.

“In his first week at school he called me and I knew something was wrong,” recalled Sonia.

“He’d been chased at Archway station by the Hypes boy again who yelled at him that he was going to shank him. He said, ‘I’m running through the alleyway’. I just put my shoes on and ran out there.”

Sonia called the local Safer Neighbourhoods Team in May, but received only report confirmations. In September the family were offered accommodation in Edmonton but were worried that they would be targeted by gangs there.

Police closed the case in October but one week later trouble started again. On one occasion the words “SNM UR F****D” were spray-painted on the front door.

Sonia says she left several messages for the police but received no response until the Youth Engagement Team (YET) called Adrian to ask why he had not reported the incidents.

A spokesman for Islington Police regretted the “breakdown in communication”, adding “The delays in contacting the YET had been due to a difference in shift patterns with the SNT.”

She added: “Investigating officers from Islington have tried on numerous occasions to speak to Ms Clarke’s son but have apparently not been able to speak to him as yet.”

Adrian now wears his stab vest every time he leaves the house. “I feel scared when I’m out,” he says. “It’s never safe for me, and I feel scared for my brothers too.

“I want the police to help, but there’s nothing I can do.”

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