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'Risk of death' as brutal gang fights increase in Greenwich

PUBLISHED: 09:37 22 September 2011 | UPDATED: 09:37 22 September 2011

Tributes to Yemurai Kanyangarara at the scene of his death in July, in Upper Wickham Lane, Welling.

Tributes to Yemurai Kanyangarara at the scene of his death in July, in Upper Wickham Lane, Welling.

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»Organised fights between rival gangs outside schools have increased "significantly" in Greenwich, according to a report. It also claims the level of violence some youths are using in the borough is so high there is a 'significant' risk of death.

The report into the work of Greenwich’s Violent and Organised Crime Unit (VOCU) and serious youth violence, written by council officers and due to be discussed at a Greenwich Council meeting tonight, reveals more than 71 arrests were made by the unit from April to July this year.

Murder

More than 100 weapon sweeps were carried out in the same period, recovering six knives and nine metal or wooden poles.

This comes after the murder of Yemurai Kanyangarara, 16, in Welling, in broad daylight on July 1, led to some Welling schools closing early for fears of gang fights.

Three teenagers, two from Peckham and one from Camberwell, who are all aged 15 and therefore cannot be named, are due to stand trial in November at the Old Bailey, accused of his murder.

The report reads: “Greenwich was ranked fourth highest out of all London boroughs for youth violence for the year 2010/11 and third for assault with injury offences.

“Thirty-one per cent of serious wounding offences in Greenwich involved a knife and 30 per cent of the victims were young people.

“The level of violence committed by these young people has become so concerning that there is a significant risk of the loss of a young life.

“Inter-school conflicts between groups of young people from different schools have shown a significant increase, with organised fights occurring outside schools and young people from other boroughs turning up at schools with violent intent toward pupils who are so-called ‘rival gang’ members.”

The council’s community safety and environment department faces cuts of £450,000 but will part-fund VOCU for another two years.

Since the unit was set up in April 2008, 25 guns have been recovered, 60 knives, £217,638 in cash, and large quantities of Class A and B drugs.

The report continues: “The overall picture for young people in Greenwich is very positive with a lot of outstanding, well-embedded partnership activity in the borough that is having a significant effect in reducing youth crime and anti-social behaviour.”

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