‘Forget knives, prepare for a tsunami of gun crime in Camden,’ warns former police officer

Ali Hassan Ali claims firearms can be bought easily via Snapchat

Thursday, 26th August 2021 — By Harry Taylor

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Ali Hassan Ali, right, with the recent Conservative by-election campaign in Fortune Green

CAMPAIGNERS fear that Camden could face a “tsunami” of gun crime as those working to get weapons off the streets say they are seeing an increased number of firearms.

Ali Hassan Ali, a former Camden police officer, believes gang members are switching to replica guns and converted BB guns because of the crackdown on knives. Weapons are being bought and sold for hundreds of pounds with deals being struck via the social media platform Snapchat, he added.

Mr Ali said: “Young people I’ve spoken to have said that the thing about knives now is that they know the police and the media are so hot on them, so they’re getting these guns instead.

“They’re easier to hide than zombie knives, they’re easier to pass around and you can get them for as little as £70. It’s easy, you can get them converted and sell them on.”

“The focus from the police force at the moment is knife, knife, knife but that’s not what [we] are seeing any more.”

Mr Ali, 40, added: “There is something going on in Camden, and this is the first incident where young people are being targeted. This could end up being a tsunami, where there’s a wave about to hit.”

Since leaving the force four weeks ago he has set up his own initiative, Chapter 1, to encourage people to give up their weapons.

Mr Ali supported the Conservatives during last month’s Fortune Green by-election and is tipped to stand for the party at next year’s council elections.

The last person to be shot dead in Camden was Wilson Varela in September 2019, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Malden Road, near the Fiddler’s Elbow.

Nobody has been charged with his murder, with police believing it was a case of mistaken identity. Four people were injured last week after being shot in Clarence Gardens.

Five people have been arrested in connection with the incident late on August 14, but no charges have been made.

The Met’s most recent annual figures show a total of 450 firearms police in London in the year, compared with 366 the year before. It has since taken 98 guns in the first quarter of the year since April, compared with 92 for the same period last year.

Young people caught up in gangs were “victims” who often came from “broken homes” and may have experienced domestic violence, Mr Ali said.

A spokesperson for Snapchat said: “We have zero tolerance for illegal activity on Snapchat and this includes the buying or selling of illegal weapons. We encourage anyone who sees it to report it in-app, so our dedicated trust and safety team can take swift action.

“We are deeply committed to the safety of our community and have always put a great deal of thought into how to enable young people to engage creatively, safely and positively when using our platform.”

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