Kids as young as 10 in Cally Road terror reign
Shopkeepers under siege from gang of youths wielding machetes
13 October, 2017 — By Emily Finch
Cllr Paul Convery: ‘The kids deliver drugs’
SHOPKEEPERS and residents say they are being terrorised by machete-wielding children as young as 10 who are running wild in Caledonian Road.
The street “shuts down” after dark because of a small group of youths intimidating residents and stealing from shops, according to people who spoke out this week.
Shop-owners described the dangers they face trading on part of the road which stretches from north of King’s Cross station to Pentonville Prison amid growing concerns about the type of weapons being used.
“We see women outside our shops, getting their phones snatched. We want to help but the kids have kitchen knives and machetes,” said a worker at a takeaway restaurant, who wished to remain anonymous.
“Sometimes they [the kids] come in here and take drugs. Last Sunday, when we were cleaning the store, they pulled down our shutters and banged on them, they trapped us in. It is dangerous.”
A business owner, who did not wish to give his name for fear of reprisals, said: “These kids are a plague on the Caledonian Road. In general there seems to be no will to deal with this situation. The road needs more CCTV and for the police to take these issues seriously.
“It’s making the road a place that people don’t want to live in, businesses don’t want to operate here and customers don’t want to come.”
An off-licence owner added: “We need more CCTV on the road. Something needs to be done to stop this.”
Owners and workers at six other bars, off-licences and takeaway restaurants on the road said they were worried about their safety and that of their customers.
Labour ward councillor Paul Convery – a former Town Hall crime chief – blamed the “industrial scale” of drug dealing centred on estates surrounding the road for creating the anti-social behaviour.
“There’s a group of young men – well, boys, almost primary school age to late teens – who are a very overpowering presence on Cally. The kids are being used to peddle around and deliver packages of drugs on the order of older criminal organisers. These kids are being exploited. It’s a very, very big business,” he said.
He described how the youths, often on bikes, would meet outside a supermarket in the afternoon and run “errands” for older drug dealers throughout the evening.
“Some of them are primary school kids,” said Cllr Convery. “The whole point of an older drug dealer using younger kids to deliver drugs is, if they’re really young, below the age of criminal responsibility, they can be arrested but not charged.”
The age of criminal responsibility is 10 in England.
He added: “I know some of those kids. Some of them, their home backgrounds are very challenging. I understand why they are very vulnerable to being groomed into gangs. It’s lucrative. There’s a bit of camaraderie and it may be something they are missing from their family.
“Kids are drawn to larking around with others their age but this is not larking around, this is committing crimes – stealing bikes, mopeds, phones and grabbing cash from shops.”
He said that, with a greater police presence, the road would become host to a vibrant nightlife, with restaurants, bars and independent shops as in Highbury East.
“People will feel more safe, less at risk if they believe there is a reasonable chance a police officer will walk around the corner,” he said.
Islington’s community safety chief, Councillor Andy Hull, said: “We have fixed cameras in the Caledonian Road area and can deploy mobile cameras to areas that aren’t covered, if needed.
“We would be happy to discuss current concerns with residents and businesses and work with police to address them as increasing CCTV is only one of the options.”