Croydon police yesterday began a murder investigation into the events that led to a man in his 20s dying from knife wounds after a stabbing in Selhurst on Friday night.
Yet even as senior officers were reassuring MPs and council leaders at an emergency meeting of the borough’s Gold Command that they had the situation under control following an unparalleled night of savagery on the streets of Croydon, the spate of stabbings was continuing, with incidents reported at Hadleigh Grove in Coulsdon on Saturday morning and on London Road, in broad daylight on one of the borough’s busiest shopping areas.
There were other violent incidents elsewhere in the capital on Saturday, including one in which another young man died.
Police maintain that none of the Croydon incidents are connected, despite reports on social media suggesting a gangs turf war has broken out. A Section 60 order – giving the police broader stop and search powers – was placed on the borough for the second night running.
Scotland Yard also deployed additional officers from the Violent Crime Taskforce to Croydon on Saturday, another sign that the local police are both understaffed and losing control of the borough’s streets.
The latest incident was a case in point. Eyewitnesses on London Road, near the junction with Oakfield Road, reported seeing two groups of youths having a loud argument. At one point, one broke away from the dispute and walked into a nearby butcher’s shop, to emerge moments later brandishing a knife.
According to the official police report issued yesterday evening, “Shortly after 15.00hrs, police were alerted by London Ambulance Service that a 24-year-old man had been stabbed in London Road, Croydon. He was taken to hospital where his injuries were assessed as non-life threatening. A crime scene is in place and an investigation is underway.”
But as one retired police sergeant with decades of experience across south London, including Croydon, observed yesterday, 10 years of austerity cuts cannot pass without having a damaging effect on community safety and resilience.
“Croydon police used to have properly resourced Safer Neighbourhoods Teams, schools officers and strong community links,” the former Met officer said.
“There were police stations in Norbury and South Norwood (north of the borough) and Kenley (south), as well as other bases. All disappeared over the past decade.”
The Met issued a statement yesterday confirming that the fatal stabbing on Wisbeach Road on Friday night was now a murder investigation. The victim, aged 22, had not yet been named, though Sky News quoted a neighbour as saying that the man had suffered a deep cut to his leg and there was “blood everywhere”.
She added: “His mum was here crying and she was in pieces. It is terrifying. My son is 19 and I’m worried for him.”
Yesterday’s police statement said, “Officers were also informed that a male – no further details – had suffered a stab wound during the incident but had been taken to hospital prior to police arrival. His condition is not life threatening and his next of kin are aware.”
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Thorpe from Specialist Crime said: “We know that a group of males attended the address and an altercation occurred which resulted in the victim receiving a fatal stab injury.
“I would ask any local residents who saw or heard anything shortly after 8pm on Friday evening to contact police; no matter how insignificant you think your information might be, it could help us piece together what happened.
“I am aware that this was one of a number of violent incidents in and around the south London area on Friday evening but there is nothing to connect these incidents together at this time.
“A young man has lost his life in a senseless act of violence, leaving his family devastated. If you can help us find who is responsible for this attack, then I would urge you to get in touch immediately.”
The police also clarified their reports from Friday night by explaining that their reports of four men presenting with knife wounds at “a south London hospital” (Mayday) had come from an incident at Penwortham Road in Streatham, while two others who arrived at the hospital for treatment had come from Chislehurst.
Yesterday’s incidents began at 11.20am in Coulsdon, where a man in his 20s was taken to hospital with injuries which were not life-threatening. “Two men have been arrested in relation to that incident,” a police statement said.
Superintendent Andy Brittain said yesterday, “I understand that the events of the past 24 hours will have caused concern for many people in our local community. The violence we have witnessed is senseless and our thoughts are with the family of the 22-year-old man who tragically lost his life.
“I want to reassure the community that our borough is safe. Investigations are well underway and four arrests have been made. I also want to clarify that most of the people involved in these incidents have been adults.
“Your local officers are out on the ground keeping the community safe and additional resources from across the Met have already been deployed to the area.”
Meanwhile, the crisis-hit borough’s politicians – MPs, the council leader and ward councillors – indulged themselves with a series of belated and vacuous platitudinous messages on social media, expressing their “confidence” in the police.
- Anyone with information that can assist the police investigation are asked to contact 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD7236/5Feb. You can also leave information anonymously by calling the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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