Friday, 28 March 2008

As things have been rather quiet on the Ealing front, I've decided the sensible way to blog youth crime in Ealing, is to ask the youth in Ealing. A survey has been sent out and results should be in very soon! Until then, here's a site that can gives the official figures for crime in Ealing as well as all other London boroughs -

Between April 2005 and May 2006, this is how Ealing's crime rate (blue block) fared against the national average (pink block):

* The rate is the number of offences per 1000 population

Monday, 24 March 2008

I recently found this circulating on Facebook:

at 8:51pm on January 29

This message is in memory of my good friend Fuad Buraleh who was brutally beaten to death late friday evening in dean gardens, west ealing... You will be sadly missed and our hearts go out to your family at this moment in time. a friend once wrote "people really need to consider bout taking other peoples lifes, it effects everbody" if you agree with this pass this on. its bout time this mess comes to a stop, dont you think???????

Fuad Buraleh is the Somali teenager who was murdered in West Ealing Park in January, as mentioned in the last blog.
The strong message being passed on by Fuad's friend reminded me of this:

"March calls for justice for Anton. Anton Hyman was found shot and stabbed in 2004. The family and friends of the 17-year-old who was murdered three years ago have held a march calling for justice. Anton Hyman was shot, stabbed and beaten before being thrown in the River Brent in Greenford, west London. His body was found on 21 March 2004. The memorial march, Justice for Anton, started at midday on Saturday in Brent. The march called for an end to violent crime in the community, including murder and domestic violence, gun and knife crime. The march began at Ealing Hospital opposite Brent Valley Park and moved along the Uxbridge Road to Acton Park where family and community members addressed the crowd"

Anton's mutilated body was found in March 2004, just twenty minutes from where Fuad Buraleh was left for dead this January.

Anton's murder was highly publicised. As well the posters put up around his old primary school, Derwentwater (Woodhurst Road, W3) where I was a pupil two years below him, his parents, Delroy and Vanessa, joined 'Mothers Against Murder and Aggression' or 'MAMAA', a charity set up to support the families of murder victims - and on what would have been Anton's 19th and 21st birthdays, marches were held from Ealing Hospital to Acton Park. They also put pressure on the Metropolitan Police to repeat the 1996 weapons and ammunitions amnesty. Both were successful ventures, and Anton's parents as well as MAMAA should be accredited for, despite their personal loss, fronting the Ealing campaign against gun and knife crime.

However the underlying tragedy for Anton's family is, that four years on from his death, nobody has been brought to justice for the murder. The scary question has to be asked - is this turning into another Stephen Lawrence case? And no, I'm not referring to another murdered black teenager, I'm referring to the disturbingly strong wall of silence that so often surrounds any youth or gang-related crime.

The stark, harrowing similarities between the images of Fuad and Anton, murdered just three years apart, make me think its about time we started to do something about that wall.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Queen of the Suburbs?

Apparently, or so Wikipedia says, the West London Borough of Ealing is known as ‘Queen of the Suburbs.’ Not sure where this delightful pet name comes from but it’s up on the Ealing Times website as well.
Judging by recent events however, Ealing looks in danger of losing that *prestigious* belt quite soon.
Well, I’ve lived my whole life in Ealing, spending my childhood on a picturesque Victorian street in Acton Central, then teenage years on the hilly Windmill Estate that can’t make up its mind if it’s in Hanwell or Southall, and I would say on the whole it’s been a pleasant experience. Just pleasant.
I had a quick Google to see what might have contributed to this ‘suburban’ image that Ealing has carved out for itself. Wikipedia, in its usual trusty nature, only gives two photos – one of that typically gothic Town Hall, and another of the old, and frankly butt-ugly Ealing Council building (Percival House, eugh!). Read the article, and you will find that we are basically a bunch of ageing historians, obsessed with our Saxon foundations and Gunnersbury Manor, who have been invaded by Poland.
Our only claims to coolness are The Who, Peter Crouch and – wait for it – Jamiroquai . Oh, and the almost defunct Ealing Studios recently made the St Trinians movie (cough, flop).
So yes, you’d be forgiven for thinking Ealing is dryer than Emmerdale (they got Patsy Kensit remember). Or so we thought.
That was until last September, when Ealing came into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. On 3rd September 2007, Yasin Abdirahman, a 22-year old student from Southall, was stabbed to death on the Windmill Park Estate by a ‘gang of youths’. I remember waking up to see about 15 policemen out on the park with the whole estate cordoned off. There was door to door questioning, name-taking and all the rest of it for days. Then about a week later, from the kitchen window I saw a huge group of Somali women all dressed in black walking out of the estate – presumably for Yasin’s funeral.
Someone was arrested and charged in October, and things died down. It was reported in the local papers mostly, and possibly mentioned briefly on BBC news. Then 5 months later, 19 year-old Fuad Buraleh, also of Somali origin was murdered 10 minutes away, in Dean Gardens, West Ealing.
This time it was big; all over the national papers and TV. And suddenly Ealing is another scary hot-spot, another danger-zone for crime, stabbings, youth violence, and general ASBO behaviour.
But are things really that bad? Or are they worse? Ealing’s constituent districts and neighbouring borough Brentford are after all home to some of the murkiest housing estates in West London. Acton is commonly referred to 'Crackton' - more than just an affection nickname I believe. I’d been a personal witness to anti-social behaviour way before these murders, but now everything is in the spotlight. Or is everything being blown out of proportion? Is Ealing really full of brewing youngsters, violent tearaways and strained race relations, or is it just a few wannabes trying to recreate Peckham? Not sure which is scarier..