Croydon community fighting knife crime urges patience as new Met Police chief takes over

A community fighting back against knife crime urged Londoners to be patient with the new Met Police chief as they cast doubt on his pledge to start blitzing crime in his first 100 days.

Sir Mark Rowley met community leaders and the family of a teenager killed in Croydon to hear for himself the scale of the task ahead.

Five teenage boys were killed in the South London borough in 2021, a figure which has fallen significantly this year.

"Ten months without a teenage murder is a major thing for this borough, it’s built confidence and started the process of trust and we feel very protective over what we have achieved in Croydon and hope it can spread across London," community worker Anthony King told ITV News.

Mr King said he felt "positive" about the Met's new Commissioner but warned he shouldn't promise too much too soon.

"Mark has come in with the enthusiasm that’s needed, questions were asked today about radical questions and radical shifts and I felt very positive about Sir Mark Rowley’s approach," Anthony King said.

"I think he’s going to need some more time. He’s going to need a lot longer than 100 days to start seeing any form of change - it won’t happen in the next year.

"Londoners need to be patient with him as he implements these changes," Mr King added.

Shortly after taking up his new role Sir Mark Rowley promised hundreds of wanted criminals would be arrested in the first 100 days to boost confidence.

Britain’s biggest force is also in in special measures following a string of scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard, the Stephen Port inquiry and the strip search of Child Q.

Mr King said there were some important issues that needed to be addressed to rebuild trust with communities.

'Officers do not understand the culture'

"We’ve realised a lot of officers who come from outside London do not understand the culture here in London especially here in Croydon," Anthony King said.

"We think with the training that’s been supplied to them by the community engaging directly with police we will see changes in the way communities are policed.

"Number one for many black Londoners is stop and search and also engagement in terms of teenage robberies and serious youth violence.

"We have high expectation of the Met here in this borough that they can prove it and work collaboratively with the community to make sure we not only see a reduction in teenage murders but in teenage robberies and serious youth violence.

"It’s a wonderful borough, it’s a wonderful city, and I ask people to be patient. I don’t think we will see change in 100 days - we need to give him a year or two to see changes manifest," Mr King added.

But the family of London's youngest fatal stabbing victim last year, 14-year-old Jermaine Cools, said responsibility to stop violence went beyond just the police.

Jermaine Cools was repeatedly stabbed close to West Croydon station Credit: Met Police

Jermaine's mother, Lorraine Dudek said: "I don’t think a Commissioner can individually make that change I think it falls into the wider community, into homes, parents schools.

"It’s a joint community force to stop parents going through what we’re going through."

The Met's new boss said he had "learnt an awful lot" after visiting Croydon and admitted there were challenges with trust between the police and local community.

"I’ve met lots of people, really inspiring people who want to work with the police despite the fact there is a lot of pain in that room because people have lost sons, brothers and daughters," Sir Mark Rowley said.

"So really powerful about how people want to work despite the painful history to make this place better and that’s what we want to see across London," he explained.

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