Estate ‘on edge' after shootings as police step up patrols
Police chief ready to 'push the button' to get more officers
Wednesday, 18th August 2021 — By Harry Taylor
The scene of the shootings on Saturday evening
FRIGHTENED residents are fuming at Camden Council and the police for not shutting down an outdoor gathering on their estate before four people were shot on Saturday night.
People living on the Regent’s Park estate told the New Journal today (Wednesday) that they are still scared and feeling “on edge” after the shootings in Clarence Gardens.
Among those injured was a grandmother who suffered wounds to her legs from a stray bullet as she stood outside her first-floor flat. A 28-year-old man, a 17-year-old woman and a 19-year-old woman were also injured.
All were treated in hospital but none are in a life-threatening condition.
Police have said the shootings are considered to be gang-related and those who were hurt had not been the intended targets. Officers and council staff had been called out numerous times to complaints about drug dealing and loud music as people began gathering in the square from the early afternoon.
Several residents said it felt like trouble was “inevitable” as the atmosphere grew more tense and intimidating.
Police and council staff visited the event after the calls from residents, but neither took the decision to shut down the event.
Jamie Akinola, a council officer who leads on community safety, told a meeting with residents on Tuesday that police had taken the view that it would not be “appropriate” to use dispersal powers.
At the same meeting, Superintendent Dominic Barnes, from Camden and Islington, said he was disappointed with the response.
“For me, it’s not about blaming the council or local authority. We were called seven times to the location and it’s the responsibility of the police officers on scene to deal with the matter,” he said.
“The matter was not dealt with in a way that met my expectations, therefore we are carrying out a full investigation. Therefore, any blame should not be put on the local authority – if there’s any blame I’m here to answer the questions of people today.
“Officers made the decision to leave the scene without taking any further action. Despite further calls, no further units turned up to the scene.”
One resident told the meeting, which was held by videocall: “Are you really all so shocked this has happened? I’ve lived here for 38 years and the last six years there has been nothing but trouble, gang-related incidents, weapons being found, drug use [and] anti-social behaviour.
“Complaints are made and never dealt with. All the residents are getting to the stage where they’re very angry and frustrated and they want to see strong leadership from the council.”
At a separate meeting on the estate today (Wednesday), residents told council staff and councillors of their fears.
“You could feel it, I walked through earlier and went home and said to my family, ‘you’re not going out tonight’, because you just knew something was going to happen,” said one woman.
Another added: “My 27-year-old daughter went out last night and I said to her, ‘do you really have to go?’ People are still worried now about what is going to happen.”
A neighbour of the 73-year-old woman who was caught in the crossfire said he had been talking to her when she was hit. “I just heard this ‘bang, bang, bang’ and she just screamed out loud and screamed in pain.
She stumbled, and we grabbed her, so she just ended up on the floor and was bleeding from both legs,” he added. “There was a lot of shouting all of a sudden and people started running in different directions.”
Security patrols by the council’s community safety team and housing officers are being temporarily increased, and more police officers are in the area.
The measures will be reviewed over the next week.
Supt Barnes said on Tuesday he would ask for extra officers for the area if needed, adding: “If I need to get pan-London resources, then so be it, and I’ll do it.
“I’ll push the button and they’ll come. If you want to see more police officers in your environment, I’ll do my best to make that happen.”
Camden Council leader Councillor Georgia Gould said: “We are incredibly distressed that this shocking act of violence happened in our Camden community and it is deeply sad that four people are in hospital.
“My thoughts are with them, their family and friends. Clarence Gardens and the wider Regent’s Park estate are at the heart of our borough – a diverse and tight-knit community of families and young people, people who have made their home there for decades, community leaders and civic activists.”
Anyone who has information about the incident is urged to contact the police on 101 quoting reference 7619 August 14. You can also give information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.