Mother of victim says there are gangs in Mitcham
A mother has refuted claims by Merton's top policeman that there are ‘no gangs in Mitcham’ after her son became a victim.
At a public meeting last month Detective Chief Superintendent, Darren Williams, said there were ‘no gangs’ in Mitcham and warned residents against wrongly labelling youths as criminals - adding "this isn’t Lambeth, Croydon or Southwark".
Mr Williams said he was unaware of any gangs in Mitcham following claims by a member of the public that "a gang in Mitcham" was "smashing up McDonalds".
The mother from Mitcham, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her son has been targeted by gang members at least four times.
She said: "There is a big gang culture in Mitcham.
"My son knows there are four gangs and they go around wearing certain colours.
"It was upsetting when I read a report that there are no gangs."
The woman described one occasion where her son was approached from behind by a group of youths, some as young as 13, who pushed him to the floor and then punched him in the face.
She added: "I am absolutely upset and disgusted by it.
"We moved here about eight years ago and over that time we have seen it get worse.
"My son used to be able to go out on his own.
"In the past year or two things have started to change and you see a lot more gangs hanging around."
"It makes me feel unsafe in the area to the point that my husband has said that’s it we are moving, but we can’t."
Responding to Mr Williams comments online, one reader, Kazza76, said: "I have lived in Mitcham for nine years and I can assure you there are gangs" adding "I felt very intimidated by the youths hanging around in Mitcham, check out the bandanas hanging out of their back pockets indicating which gang they belong to."
In a weekly message to the borough following his comments Mr Williams said: "I was responding to a local resident who claimed that "every Saturday night, gangs are smashing up MacDonald's in
"That is simply not true.
"It is my belief that we must be very careful about labelling every group of youths as gangs, especially if this is done on racial or cultural basis.
"As you know I worked in Peckham for three years and I made reference to my experience of tackling gang issues there.
"I totally accept that we have some young people who are involved in gang activity but I do not accept that everyone is.
"Of course this is only my view and I would welcome your comments and views on this."
Eugene Attram, 16, was stabbed to death in Mitcham in 2006 when a brawl broke out between members of two south London gangs - the Battersea based SUK and Mitcham gang, Terror Zone.