The residents in Walthamstow particularly the young people have expressed concern for their safety on the streets due to the alarming rise in violent crime.


According to the latest statistics on, there were a total of 1005 street-level crime incidents in Walthamstow in August 2019 with the largest category being Anti-social behaviour followed by violent crime. From drug dealing to murder, Vallentin Road (a street frequently used by young people when travelling to school) has now been labelled by The Sun as “UK’s most dangerous street”. Last year on September 22nd 2018, A 19-year-old man was shot dead in a drive-by shooting at the end of the alleyway just opposite Wood Street Autos. During the shooting, a 17-year-old boy and 24-year old man were also badly injured. This tragic incident occurred just a few months after the fatal stabbing of Jermaine Johnson which took place outside a block of flats only a few yards from Wood street station. Stabbings and gang-related incidents have become so frequent to the point that floral tributes to murder victims have almost become a normal sighting.

In order to gain insight into the impacts these horrors have on local residents, I interviewed Eloise Long,14 who said: “I feel as a teenager, I should be going out and doing more things but honestly I’m afraid that something bad will happen if I go out when it's dark or busy. I get bad anxiety when I think of even going to the shops alone. It scares me knowing that I or someone I know could be killed just around my local area – it’s very troubling.” Another local, Rada Rattanawong,14 added: “I feel people who live nearer to the station should worry as it’s a bit dodgy down there.” When questioned about actions the council could take to reduce the level of crime, Eloise Long said: “Personally, I view it as something the council can’t easily solve. The gang violence stems from a culture we have built of social media and peer pressure which most of us are hit with as soon as we reach secondary school. The council could try to have talks at schools about violence in our local area which might put people off from joining gangs. Overall, I feel as crime rates won’t decrease as long as social media grows. We are very impressionable and many people get caught up in gangs and crime because of peer pressure and wanting to fit in.”


In response to this crime epidemic, Waltham forest council published a report in 2017 announcing the additional allocation of £806,000 of funding (over the next four years) to improve the existing gang prevention program to help tackle the rising participation of young girls in gangs. The report was composed through talking with current and former gang members to help provide a better understanding of the way’s gangs operate so intervention services already in place could be improved. The report also revealed that six out of ten gang members have anxiety disorders (including PTSD) and third would have attempted suicide. As a result, Waltham forest council have decided to focus on supporting young people’s mental health.


Waltham Forest council have created an early intervention and prevention service called MASH consisting of specialists from agencies such as health, education, police, housing and youth offending and victim support colleagues. The purpose of MASH is to ensure that all agencies work together to support young people along with their families. MASH believes that families are the most fundamental tool in helping deter young people from crime as often problems with mental health and trauma are common issues which left unresolved could lead to further acts of violence.


Following the rise in violent crime, Waltham Forest council worked alongside Metropolitan Police to reduce the level of criminal activity in a partnership named Operation Langdale. The program ran from the 1st of October to the 31st of December, 2018 which targeted Walthamstow high street and St James Street ward. Overall, the outcomes were positive as the operation achieved 70 arrests, 15 knife confiscations and a 38% decrease in knife crime.


As gangs continue to become more sophisticated in the ways they operate and criminality continues to persist as a problem, we can only hope the council’s added knowledge and improved prevention services will continue to significantly reduce crime rates. Hopefully, we can progress as a community so young people will be able to regain their confidence and no longer live in fear.

Romayssa Sebai