Juveniles with knives travelling to Romford, say police

Police have linked a recent triple stabbing in Romford to “juveniles” travelling into the area from Newham on the Elizabeth Line.

Senior officers faced local politicians on Thursday March 16, three weeks after a stabbing in Popeye’s Chicken, in South Street.

Three teenage boys were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries on the afternoon of February 27.

Police arrested three suspects on the day and a further two have been arrested after being identified through CCTV footage of the incident.

All those suspected of involvement in the incident – videos of which circulated widely on social media – have now been bailed.

Speaking to a Havering Council scrutiny committee, senior local officers said recent problems have been linked to groups from “different parts of London”.

Inspector Zed Asghar told councillors: “We have the Elizabeth Line, which is a wonderful form of transport, but also a lot of other areas such as Newham have people travelling to Romford on it.

“They also stop at Ilford and cause a few problems there.”

The inspector added that young people seem to be “congregating” around the shopping centre to use the free wifi and buy fast-food.

To deal with increased numbers of young people, particularly during the teachers’ strike, police have deployed “additional resources” and issued a 48-hour “dispersal zone” notice around Romford town centre.

The notice, which ends at 10am Friday but is likely to be renewed, gives officers the power to ask groups of people to leave the area if they are “committing anti-social behaviour” or may cause a nuisance.

Police Sergeant Sarah Wolf said serious knife crime is “rare” in Romford but that officers carried out 100 “stop and searches” this month and are finding a lot of knives.

She added that police have various powers to address anti-social behaviour from young people including banning them from an area for 48-hours, community protection warnings and criminal behaviour orders.

They can also call for meetings with parents, mental health teams, social services.

Families in council housing may also receive threatening letters about their children breaching the terms of their tenancy agreements that cover anti-social behaviour.

When pressed on why people with knives are travelling to Romford, the senior officers said they have “several working theories”, such as high levels of police presence in Stratford town centre driving them elsewhere.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter