Inside London's knife crime capital Croydon after Elianne Andam tragedy – as thugs wield zombie knives 'long as arms' | The Sun

THE fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old girl heading to school on a bus has shocked the nation – but violence is an everyday part of life in Croydon's Wild West ganglands.

Residents of the south London borough are used to seeing youths carrying zombie knives in broad daylight and gruesome attacks in the street.

In 2021 Croydon recorded the most blade-related deaths in the capital, with five teenagers stabbed to death.

Community leaders have attempted to stem the bloodshed with various youth initiatives, while businesses are paying a levy for a private security patrol because the police are so invisible.

Despite that, locals say the lawlessness is worse than ever.

There were certainly plenty of officers in uniform on show yesterdayfollowing the death of Elianne Andam on the number 60 bus in the heart of Croydon town centre on Wednesday morning.

Read More in The Sun


Meet the glam Queen of XL Bullys cashing in by flooding UK with 8st beasts


Top Gear named corner after Gambon – they'd be stunned if they knew why he was fast

They did little to reassure people, who insisted they would soon be gone.

Kamran Iqbal, 40, who has a mobile phone booth on Church Street, reveals: “Last year I saw two school children, probably aged 14 or 15, in uniform attack another boy outside McDonald’s.

“Suddenly, one guy took out a knife and stabbed him. It is horrifying.

“It is quite normal now, every month someone is attacking someone.”

Most read in The Sun


Neo-nazi gunman kills 3 including girl, 14, & mum after opening fire at hospital


Ex-World boxing champ cleared of sex assault after ‘calling waitress “pet”‘


Top cop faces probe after wearing Falklands medal despite being 15 during war


TV legend joins Corrie and you might recognise him from classic sitcom

Knife-crazed Marques Walker, 17, brutally murdered schoolboy Jermaine Cools, 14, in 2021
A zombie knife seized by police in 2021Credit: PA
Jermaine Cools was stabbed as he lay defenceless on the ground outside a chicken shopCredit: PA

Thankfully, no one was killed in the attack. But Kamran claims that the police do nothing to deter violent criminals from striking again.

After reporting that a drunken man threatened to attack him with a knife as he prepared to close up his shop, Kamran says officers did not even think it was worth attending the incident.

He claims: “He put his hand in his pocket as if he was going to take out a knife and threatened me, but when I called the police they said they’d only come out if he actually came at me.”

Mostafa Ouadah, 60, saw the blood-stained victim of a blade assault in July on the same road.

The owner of the Coffee Time cafe says: “Someone was stabbed right outside here. There is no question that things are getting worse, people are fearful.”

Thankfully, air ambulance crew were with the injured 19-year-old man within four minutes and he survived. 

Mostafa, who has run the Croydon business for 17 years, says it is not an isolated incident.

He recalls: “I also saw somebody running with a knife, he had it up his sleeve.

“We have a lot of drug addicts, a lot of drug dealers, a lot of alcoholics and gangsters.”

The 60-year-old businessman does not blame police who he thinks are too poorly resourced. He says: “I blame the politicians.”

One of his customers, 79-year-old Jennifer Gray-Evans, told how two boys, probably aged 12 and 14, threatened to burn her a few weeks ago.

Jennifer, who lives in Croydon, reveals: “They were sitting on the chain in front of the parking, and I asked them to get off because I thought they were liable to snap it.

“They got a canister of butane gas out and they lit a cigarette lighter, but by the time they could light the flame I had my phone out. That stopped them.

“They were threatening to burn me.”

Jennifer, who has lived in Croydon since 1988, says the area is “much worse now than ever”.

Private patrol force

Naj Ahmadzay, 50, who manages the Mi Home store on Church Street, told how three years ago one of the staff was hit over the head by members of a gang who had stolen a doormat.

He recalls: “Two of them hit him on the head. By the time I got there he had run away. He needed stitches.”

The business is one of 500 which pays a yearly fee for the Croydon BID Street Ranger team.

BID stands for Business Improvement District and the patrol is an attempt to reduce “low level crime”. 

Unlike the police, though, they do not have the power of arrest.

Ben Selvaratnam, who owns Freshfields supermarket on Church Street, is also part of the scheme.

But it has not reduced an epidemic of violence in his general store.

He says: “We have been threatened with knives, glass bottles and even sugar cane sticks.”

Other locals reported witnessing brutal violence in broad daylight on the town centre street.

Shop owner Asfandiyar Khan, 34, says: “I saw a guy with a knife as long as my forearm running down the street. It was a sword. He had his face covered.”

Shop assistant Aqeel Ahmed, 44, adds: “Last month I saw two boys punch another boy and snatch his mobile. They kept asking him to put in his password.”

Stemming the tide

Even though it was midday when we visited Croydon, which has a population of 192,000, there was an sense of disorder, with drunk locals congregating around the main shopping area.

At East Croydon train station, one inebriated man had taken his top off, waving a can of booze.

General store co-owner Anita Bakhai says: “Everyone is so scared nowadays.”

But the local community is trying to turn the tide by giving a greater purpose to the area’s young people.

DJ Martin Wright, 45, works with the Hope Programme, which holds regular sessions at the Croydon Voluntary Action (CVA) centre and helped to start the My Ends project. 

Children aged 5-17 take part in DJing workshops and other performances at the Hope Programme.

He says: “Croydon is not the most deprived borough in London, but it does have the highest proportion of young people.

“We have got young people who are in really difficult living conditions, parental problems and not having the right people around them.

“We are trying to give something to the young people.”

The Hope Programme is trying to build better relations between the community and the Metropolitan Police Force.

The volunteers also warn youngsters about the danger of carrying knives.

Martin explains: “We are giving them facts, information, that you are more likely to be damaged or injured by a knife if you are carrying one.”

But he has experienced problems with police stop and search, which has been accused of racial profiling.

Martin says: “I was stopped last Christmas by the police in Croydon after we had just finished the Christmas party, I was with my two young sons.”

Despite that he believes searching people for knives does play an important role in reducing crime.



I'm a cleaner, 5 things I'd never put in my house – including a kitchen handle

Back to normality

Paris Fury shares sleepy selfie & baby update after day of 'normal life'

Like so many people we spoke to in Croydon, he is shocked by the news of 15-year-old Elianne’s death.

He concludes: “I am devastated, as a parent and a father and a person who works with young people in that capacity, it is totally heartbreaking.”

Source: Read Full Article