Vigilante mums fighting back against knife thugs in area blighted by muggers

“MUMMY, am I going to make it through school alive?”

It’s the haunting question that sparked Emma Rigby and an army of mums into patrolling North London’s deadly streets.

Parents have joined the action group to patrol the streets of Enfield
Parents have joined the action group to patrol the streets of Enfield, an area that last year had the highest rate of serious youth violence in the capital
Rick Findler
Emma Rigby said her own son had asked her if he would make it through high school
Emma Rigby said her own son had asked her if he would make it through high school
Rick Findler

Her 11-year-old fears for his safety as he walks to and from a school where kids are regularly mugged by thugs.

Many students are robbed for the sake of 30 pence – others for their coats or mobile phones.

Now, in between school runs, packing lunches and their own careers, these hero mums and dads are fighting back against the crimewave seeing more than one attack a day.

Horrifying stats reveal Enfield had the highest rate of serious youth violence – 397 incidents – in the capital in the 12 months to November last year. In the 12 months before February this year, there were 377 incidents reported.

Many children have been reported being asked where they are from before being attacked, sparking fears postcode gang wars are responsible for the violence.

The Sun Online understands some of the youngsters involved are linked to the Albany Park gang – notorious for the torture murder of 15-year-old Jacob Abraham in 2017.

The chilling attacks are happening in broad daylight – with a child caught on McDonald’s CCTV being forced to hand over his jacket to two menacing figures just a few weeks ago.

PARENTS ON PATROL

Today, it’s a personal battle for many parents – firefighters, retail workers and admin officers – as their own children have fallen victim to the troubling youth violence spiralling out of control on Enfield’s streets.

Mum Emma launched the patrol group through her own Love Your Doorstep community network – horrified after her 11-year-old son asked her if he would survive school.

She said: “I can’t believe I had this conversation with an 11-year-old, it’s really sad and needs to stop.”

Mummy am I going to make it through school alive?

Emma Rigby's son

She said parents had been given kits, including high-vis jackets, radios and whistles, for the twice daily patrols through Enfield.

Emma said: “We are giving people that sense of community.

“Our kids are starting to think it’s normal to be mugged.

“We’re not there to get involved in violence, the last thing we want to do is get involved in situations that have nothing to do with us.

“We are there to make sure our children are feeling safe.”

A rota system sees parents stroll the streets during lunchtime and after school – chatting to students and making sure they know there is someone to speak to.

MUGGED FOR 35p

Volunteer mum Anne Enemaku is just one to have signed up to the community patrol group.

The 44-year-old works in retail but after she finishes her day job, she dons a high-vis jacket and joins the patrols.

Her son, Daniel, was just 12 when he was mugged as he walked home from the train station last year.

Speaking to the Sun Online, the teen revealed how he had been heading through a local Enfield park when he was set upon about 5pm.

He said: “I was just walking and I saw these boys in the distance.

“I tried to avoid them but they still approached me – they asked for my phone and money.

“I was scared – I had heard about all the stabbings before and I didn’t want it to happen to me.”

Anne Enemaku joined the patrol after her son Daniel was mugged when he was just 12
Anne Enemaku joined the patrol after her son Daniel was mugged when he was just 12
Supplied
Youngsters told The Sun Online they felt safer knowing the patrols were around
Youngsters told The Sun Online they felt safer knowing the patrols were around
Rick Findler
Recent CCTV caught a young boy being forced to pass over his jacket at the Enfield McDonald's
Recent CCTV caught a young boy being forced to pass over his jacket at the Enfield McDonald’s

The young boy said he immediately handed over his phone and all the money he had – 35p.

He said: “I wasn’t scared about my belongings, I was just scared I was going to get hurt.

“They told me not to look around, or to cause a scene.”

The youngster said he had been scared for months since the confrontation in February last year.

He said: “It’s definitely gotten worse – you hear of incidents all the time.”

Mum Anne said she was glad she could, in some way, help her son.

She added: “This has been such a difficult time for us. I’ve been trying to reassure him as much as possible.”

YOUTH CRIME HOT SPOT

According to Met Police figures, there were 397 serious youth violence offences in Enfield in 2018 – an 8.8 per cent increase on the previous year.

According to crime rates in the year to November 2018, the rate of violent crime in Enfield has nearly doubled in less than a decade.

In the year up to November 2011, there was 4,671 violent crimes – with the number almost doubling to 8,935 in 2018.

The unemployment rate in Enfield is only 4 per cent, lower than the London average, but 31 per cent  of workers do not earn a living wage.

IN NUMBERS: Enfield's crime

ENFIELD has one of the highest rates of serious youth violence in the capital.

In the year to November last year, Enfield recorded the highest in London, peaking with a total of 397 offences.

The nunber has dropped slightly in the most recent Met Police figures – recording 377 serious youth violence victims in the year to February 2019.

This places it just behind the joint high rate of Southwark and Westminster and Haringey.

Serious youth violence is defined as “any offence of most serious violence or weapon-enabled crime where the victim is aged 1 to 19.

Among the concerning figures include a rise in knife crime.

The offences rose by 9 per cent year-on-year to a total of 621.

The number of residential burglaries also climbed by 13.5 per cent to reach 2,496.

Gun crime offences in Enfield, along with rape and anti-social behaviour have fallen.

And among the rising crime, police cuts have seen a drop in the number of uniformed officers on the streets.

Joan Ryan MP told The Sun Online the borough had lost 241 police since 2010 – with concerns the lack of cops would simply see violence continue to rise.

She said police were doing the best they could but added it was “completely unsustainable”.

She said she had even spoken with Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to discuss the rising violence.

Ms Ryan added: “It’s an absolute tragedy this is happening.

“People move to Enfield to bring their children up, for the parks and schools.

“Now, parents are terrified with their teens even just going to school.

“People have a right to feel safe.”

IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: Kids threatened in McDonald's

THE boys stand close, appearing to chat as they wait for their food at McDonald’s.

Their voices are low, seemingly good friends catching up after school.

Suddenly the mood changes – the shorter boy, just 16, slowly opens his bag, trying to give his Oyster card over to the taller boy who looms over him.

But his offering is rejected.

The taller boy gets closer, menacingly threatening – “give me your money or I’ll punch you in the face.”

Around them, oblivious hungry shoppers wait for their burgers just after 5pm.

The victim, a thin schoolboy, desperately tells his mugger he needs to go to the bathroom but is stopped as he tries to walk off.

Suddenly, another man waiting for his food turns around and addresses the mugger.

“Are you threatening him? What are you saying?”

Spooked, the teen leaves as the victim scurries down the road – finding police just 50 yards down the road to report what has just happened.

But with the two cops already speaking to a woman reporting another incident, he must wait – nervously checking over his shoulder again and again at the boys still loitering outside the fast food store.

Witnessed by the Sun Online, the attempetd mugging is just one attack that has unfolded in the area in recent weeks.

As we watched, the youths loitered outside the fast food store before then heading across the road to Gregg’s – grabbing food before walking out without paying.

Speaking to the Sun Online after the incident, the man who stepped in, Pete, said he had just ordered and was waiting for his food when he heard the threats being made.

He said: “I was looking at the board that shows your order is being made and this kid was talking to two other kids.

“All I could hear him say was ‘you don’t want to cross me’.

“I could hear the kid saying ‘I need to go to the toilet’ and he said ‘you don’t want to do that’.”

The taxi driver said he immediately realised what was happening, saying: “If I had been that younger kid, I would like to think someone would do something to stop it.

“I have daughters myself – I think in that situation you should be vocal.”

He said he had considered going outside to speak to the boys involved but decided against it.

He said: “I thought – what if one has a knife, it could easily escalate in a few seconds. Would I react fast enough?”

Pictured: the young boy reporting the incident to police

Young boys stand outside McDonald's after the attempted mugging
Young boys stand outside McDonald’s after the attempted mugging

Fellow mum Tina Coletta said her own son Gabe had been mugged three times in just a few months, across Enfield, Winchmore Hill and Palmer’s Green.

One attack even unfolded as the mum, who works as a transcriber for the NHS, patrolled the streets two miles away.

And the last straw was the stabbing of Jodie Chesney, the 17-year-old who was knifed to death in a random attack in East London in March.

Tina, who joined the patrol group as it launched last month, said: “I thought – let’s do something, other than talking about it all the time.”

My fear is that knives are going to come out of pockets sooner or later if they aren’t going to get what they want

Tina ColettaMum

In one mugging, her 16-year-old son was made to hand over his phone, while in another he simply gave his attackers £5 when they realised his new phone had a smashed screen.

Tina said: “My fear is that knives are going to come out of pockets sooner or later if they aren’t going to get what they want or they don’t believe kids haven’t got anything on them.

“They were angry with him because the phone with a smashed screen was all he had.

“I’m worried about the retaliation.”

She said she believed the attacks were more about control and power than stealing.

The mum added: “I think it was just the satisfaction of making sure they got something from every single one of them.”

STRING OF ATTACKS

At lunchtime and after school, hooded youths loiter around the streets and at McDonald’s, with local businesses reporting daily problems.

One local store worker told The Sun Online: “It’s getting really bad at the moment.

“You can’t do anything, you just have to keep reporting it to police.”

Another store owner in the centre of town added: “Every day, there’s something. Somebody needs to control them.”

In just one attack last week, a 17-year-old was set upon by two criminals in balaclavas outside the school gates as fellow students watched on in horror.

And on Monday, a student was chased through the streets by a youngster armed with a knife as he desperately ran for his life.

The string of attacks also saw one boy was pulled into a car by a group of men after five sixth-form students were chased on the night of February 8.

Just three days later, a Year 11 pupil was approached by two youths during lunchtime – forced to a graveyard where they tried to rob him before he escaped.

On February 12, two teens tried to mug an Enfield Grammar student for his phone, while a 15-year-old student was caught on CCTV being forced to give his jacket over to two thugs as shocked witnesses watched in McDonald’s.

COPS ON THE BEAT: Whose job is it?

Some may argue it’s up to cops to patrol the streets.

But with the number of police officers falling over the past decade, the Enfield community has decided to shoulder some of the responsibility.

Mum Cathy Underwood has already written to her local MP Joan Ryan, calling on cops to be brought back on the street.

She said: “The police are so tired and so stressed – we need to support them and get more of a presence on our streets. It’s the only way.”

She added: “We pay our taxes – we need them back.”

Mum Emma Rigby, who set up the community group, said the locals were “really feeling” the lack of police on the streets.

She said: “The lack of funding and the lack of police presence – we’re really feeling it here as I’m sure other areas across the whole of London and the UK are feeling, it is having an impact on what’s happening.
“But I think if we work together as a community and we empower each other to be able to help the police then it’s a win-win situation for all of us.”

Met Police Chief Inspector Neil Billany said the area had two new uniformed officers working alongside the existing Neighbourhood teams to tackle violent crime.

He said volunteers were not expected to tackle suspects, but to alert police to incidents.

Speaking to the Sun Online, he said: “Mobilising the local community to work with us to address local priorities is a key objective for the police and this is a great example of that being put into practice.

“They are not replacing the work of existing Safer Neighbourhood Teams in the area who will continue to be out, visible and ready to speak with the public about any police related matters.

“I see their role as a valid contribution to the great work our officers are already doing.”
Officers have also been allocated to all primary and secondary schools in Enfield to give young people the chance to speak to cops.

Chief Insp Billany said: “We know that under reporting of crime involving young people is an issue, and are working to increase the confidence and trust by some victims who are afraid of repercussions from suspects.”

One worried mum Cathy Underwood said her own two sons, aged 16 and 18, had been mugged during school hours.

She said: “Over the last year, my eldest was mugged twice in and after school and my youngest was approached this year, but he managed to get away when they were distracted.

“It seems to be the norm for these children.”

She said the violence had gotten so bad she was now considering leaving the area, despite living there for 15 years.

The 52-year-old said: “There’s such a great sense of community and I love it here.

“But I feel that the children are becoming a target, especially once they become teenagers.

“It’s heartbreaking.”

She said she feared the violence would only escalate as the gang members became more bold.

Detective Inspector Neil Billany said: “We have recently invested in two new uniformed PCs into Enfield to work alongside the existing Neighbourhoods teams and that is just the start of new resources and police tactics in the borough.

“The Met police, along with Enfield and Haringey Councils are taking a cross border public health approach to tackling violent crime here, focussing on integrated partnership working, this includes improved information sharing between agencies, supporting victims through the criminal justice system and actively targeting law breakers with robust policing tactics.”

A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “The safety and security of our people and customers is our absolute priority.

“We are aware of anti-social behaviour that is impacting the area and continue to play our part as a good neighbour in the community, by working closely with the local school and the police to help find resolutions that work for all.”

Members of the patrol chat to students during lunch and after school
Members of the patrol chat to students during lunch and after school in Enfield
Rick Findler
Members of the public often stop the patrol group, chatting to them about their work
Members of the public often stop the patrol group, chatting to them about their work
Rick Findler
Tina Coletta said her son Gabe, 16, had been mugged three times in just a few months
Tina Coletta said her son Gabe, 16, had been mugged three times in just a few months
Rick Findler
Police are working with parents as part of the patrols
Police are working with parents as part of the patrols
Rick Findler
Police remain a constant presence on Enfield's streets to tackle the worrying youth crime
Police remain a constant presence on Enfield’s streets to tackle the worrying youth crime
Extra police officers this week headed to the borough to target the youth violence
Extra police officers this week headed to the borough to target the youth violence
The Sun
A Year 11 pupil was approached by two youths during lunchtime – forced to a graveyard where they tried to rob him before he escaped
A Year 11 pupil was approached by two youths during lunchtime – forced to a graveyard where they tried to rob him before he escaped
The Sun
Security cameras outside Enfield Grammar
Security cameras outside Enfield Grammar
The Sun

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