Murders in Kings Cross – what can we do?

Murder flyer christopher winship We seem to have had more than our fair share of murders in Kings Cross in recent years.  The two killings in the last month prompted me to check my recollection of past events and ask what we can all do about this as individuals and a community.

I was loath to pull this list together – like many people I would rather forget all this and move on.  The area is improving, let's focus on that.  But we have to remember these tragedies to learn from them.  All bar one of the following have been solved or likely to be:

Sharif Zaiden shot three times by a man who ran out of the Egg nightclub on York way August 2006.  Killer Sean Samuels sentenced to 27 years.

Daniel Ross shot dead in a reckless shooting in the Scala nightclub September 2006 – remains unsolved

Christopher Winship November 2008 stabbed to death in a domestic dispute while picking up his step daughter from nursery on Bingfield Street.  Eddie Reid the murderer was given a life sentence in August 2009.

Ben Kinsella run to ground and stabbed to death on the corner of York Way and Market Road in June 2008, three killers found guilty after the local organised crime syndicate intimidated them into turning themselves in.

Samuel Fitzgerald stabbed to death outside the Thornhill Arms pub, Caledonian Road, a man has been arrested and charged with murder April 2010.

Jessie Wright, 16 strangled to death in Outram Place just off Randell’s Road in March 2010, Zakk Sackett a local youth has been arrested and charged with murder.

I am not fully on top of the statistics but this does seem to be a higher death toll than one might expect for an urban area about a mile long by half a mile wide over three and a half years.  If we go back further there are others.

Yet crime in the area has fallen, a lot.  Walking around Kings Cross from top to bottom feels safer.  It is unrecognisable now from when I first lived in the area in 1994 on Wharfdale Road – saturated by the local sex trade who spent their takings with the dealers on ‘Class A Corner’ at the bottom of the Cally Road.  Streets have been transformed, bad, decrepit housing like Naish Court has been replaced with better modern housing.  The remaining big estates now benefit from security doors that put the residents back in control and help keep the drug trade out.  We have a lot more police on the ground thanks to Safer Neighbourhood Teams and this website works to support them.  Excellent local youth organisations like Crumbles, Sparkplug and CYP provide support for young people.

Each murder has its own special circumstances and defies generalisation.  It's not just young people in gangs, it's not just the licensed premises, it's not just visitors nor people who live here, it's not just domestics, not just organised crime nor the sex and drug trade.  Knives are a recurring factor, but often kitchen knives that defy control.  Youth gangs come and go but have not been quite the insidious problem that other areas have.  Two nightclub-related shootings perhaps point to issues there.

I was involved early on in the Safer Neighbourhoods Panel and have helped out CYP over the years (less in the last year or so as i set up a business). But overall I am at a loss to know what to do about these killings both as an individual and more broadly what we could do as a community.  The murders seem beyond a statistical freak, yet it's hard to pin it on any one factor or even a set of factors. 

As we face a future of public service cuts it's all the more important that as a community we can prioritise and focus precious resources.  But what do we need to do to stop this dreadful trend? Any ideas?

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
This entry was posted in Anti Social Behaviour, Crime etc. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Murders in Kings Cross – what can we do?

  1. Paul Convery says:

    The vast majority of teenagers in our area are good kids from decent homes who need more and better opportunities to spend their spare time in positive activities. But a small (very small) minority of teenagers have nihilistic attitudes and a tendency to suck other kids into anti-social behaviour.

    The murder of Sam Fitzgerald is another terrible incident. It is right to ask whether there is a pattern and if this small part of London is experiencing a disproportionate amount of violence. I think Sam’s murder does have one thing in common with two of the other deaths listed above – that of Jessie Wright and Ben Kinsella. It’s the tendency for teenagers to resort to escalate disagreement or anger into violence.

    At the core is a “cultural” problem. A generation of young people have lost touch with the values which previous generations stuck to: respect for other people; prepared to tolerate differences; resolving disputes peacefully; ambition for personal achievement; willingness make the effort required to succeed.

    Most of all we have a number of teenagers (a minority but a visible minority) who are determined to have a laugh or a buzz – often at someone else’s expense or discomfort. Some of the kids have grown up without any understanding of the consequences to their actions or clear boundaries to their behaviour. Most of the time this doesn’t matter very much. It’s fairly minor aggravation. But at other times it gets out of hand.

    Often this behaviour is called “gang-like” because some teenagers like to hang out, have some fun or cause a little trouble … in groups. But many people find this intimidating and frightening. Worse still, when in groups, teenagers often lose their inhibitions and when behaviour turns from thrill-seeking and energetic showing-off towards vandalism and destruction, it doesn’t take much for behaviour to turn violent. Add-in alcohol and drugs and the behaviour can get extremely dangerous.

    What should we do about it? There are no simple solutions but the answer definitely has to include having youth clubs and a wide range of activities so that teenagers do not end-up wasting their time, getting sucked into gang behaviour and resolving their feuds and disagreements through violence.

    We need many more youth facilities to give kids in the area regular clubs to hang-out and socialise, for supervised sports, music, media and other leisure. But we also have to crack down on knife-crime and anti-social behaviour on our streets, estates and parks. In this area, we now need similar gang-intervention strategies that have been deployed in the north of the Borough which followed the fatal stabbing of Martin Dinnegan.

    But most of all, we need to give this generation of kids some sense of hope in the future. Most of them cannot envisage a way into regular employment. Many are still stuck at home with their parents and have no faith in their chances of getting somewhere affordable to live and to settle down. That’s why we need to help with employment – like working for the Council or its contractors. And we need to build new affordable homes that are suitable for the young people growing up on our estates.

    Looking back at from almost 2 years ago, here is what I wrote the day after Ben Kinsella’s murder:

    “What are we doing to reduce the source of anger and mistrust between young men? The youths that murdered Ben Kinsella were driven by social forces which turned them in a minute of insanity to behave with reckless savagery. All sorts of violent behaviour are becoming endemic amongst young people. Far too often, one encounters young people who think that aggression is the standard response to any kind of conflicting choice facing them. We desperately need activities and services that help kids to understand that violence is the wrong reaction. Co-operation, self respect and respect for others has to be strengthened by giving kids the space and resource to relate to others and to find themselves. They also need to burn energy and engage in activity that is risky yet controlled. That requires massive investment in activities for young people.”

    Sadly the authorities have ducked away from even thinking about that “massive investment”.

  2. once again Paul Convery hits the nail on the head… We need to invest in our kids futures…. Sorry to bang this drum, but I’m sure second tier support from KCCP to grassroots providers of community led youth services won’t hurt…. KCCP will press release soon – a call to galvanise community groups in KX and see how we can build each other together – Ubuntu for KX youth services.

  3. Pingback: Do you have any information on the murder of 17 year old Vaso Kakko near North Road, Monday night? | Kings Cross Environment

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