Eye witnesses and victims of the violent Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) in Wapping Gardens have identified the youths causing the problems as being from Wapping Youth Centre. The Youth Centre, and the ‘children’ in its care are under the direct control of council Youth Services staff.
This Wednesday (5th September) saw another ugly ASB incident in Wapping Gardens almost identical in its nature to the previous incident where women walking their dogs were with threatened with violence by a group of youths.
Wapping Youth Centre
The Youth Centre is part of the council’s Youth Service offering and as such is managed by Youth Service staff.
Wapping Youth Centre is based in the old fire station building in Tench Street at the corner of Wapping Gardens (Tench Street junction Reardon Path).
The building in which the Youth Centre is housed on the ground floor is primarily run by the Wapping Bangladeshi Association (WBA) a registered charity which is run by local Labour councillor Abdal Ullah.
To be clear, Cllr. Ullah has no direct connection with or direct responsibility for the Wapping Youth Centre.
More threats of violence to residents
The most recent incident took place between 17.45 and 18.00 hours when two female residents returned to their home on the Green Bank estate and parked their car near the Youth Centre in Tench Street.
A group of youths clearly identified as being from Wapping Youth Centre threatened several female residents walking their dogs with violence and also road hire bikes towards them in an aggressive and threatening manner in the park leaving residents in tears and the youths in question laughing and taunting them.
Two residents confronted the three Tower Hamlets council Youth Service workers who were standing outside the Youth Centre while these events were taking place and had nothing to prevent the incident.
Old enough to commit crime, too young to punish?
According to one of the residents the youths in question “were thoroughly enjoying our discomfort” as they consider their young age (under 16) makes them untouchable by criminal law.
By this stage the police had been called but while residents and Youth Service workers waited for the police to arrive (with the youths now locked inside the youth centre) the Youth Centre workers refused to talk to the residents.
Indeed it would seem that the Youth Centre workers were attempting to shift blame onto the residents.
When the police did attend residents clearly identified those responsible for the threats of violence in the park.
But the police officers explained to residents that due to the age of the youths little could be done. And they had to endure the same taunts of ‘You can’t touch us!’ from the youths as did the residents.
LW asked for a comment from Ronke Martins-Taylor, the person in charge of Youth Services, for a comment but instead got this from ‘a council spokesperson’:
“We’re aware that this regrettable altercation happened. We are committed to working with local residents and our young people to resolve any issues that cause tension in the area and will be monitoring the situation. We’re confident that it is being managed and the youth centre has extra staff to provide support where necessary.”
Who is responsible?
Referring to the Tower Hamlets Council Youth Hubs page it seems that one Tipu Miah is the ‘Hub Leader’ for Wapping and can be contacted on 020 7364 5022 or 07908 123 662.
Ronke Martins-Taylor is Divisional Director, Youth & Commissioning at Tower Hamlets council and her email is Ronke.Martins-Taylor@towerhamlets.gov.uk
For those who are interested Ms. Martins-Taylor’s Linkedin profile is here.
Cllr. Abdal Ullah in Wapping Gardens 10.30am Sunday
Then there are our local councillors who…. oh. Well, never mind.
Although Moley did hear rumours that Cllr. Abdal Ullah would be putting in an appearance at Wapping Gardens at 10.30
Saturday 8th Sunday 9th September to talk to the dog owners.
Two different groups of youths causing ASB
It seems there are two distinct groups of youths causing the ASB problems in Wapping Gardens, an older group (14 – 17 years of age) and a younger group (11 – 14 years old) that is based in the Youth Centre. Residents say the older group clean up their mess when asked and are quite polite.
Wapping Youth Centre should be closed immediately.
When the council can prove to Wapping residents that it is capable of running a youth centre in a manner which does not generate ASB and gangs of youths threatening residentsit can be opened again under strict supervision.
This supervision should include Wapping residents.
Additionally the actions of the Youth Services staff last Wednesday should be investigated and the results made public.
Council Youth Services failed under Major Lutfur Rahman and his administration.
The events in Wapping Gardens show that Youth Services are failing under Mayor Biggs administration because if this is happening in sedate Wapping what is going on in the rest of the borough? Does anyone know?
Issues with Youth Services were one of the key reasons that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG, now Department for Housing Communities and Local Government or DHCLG) sent in their Commissioners to take control of the council from Lutfur Rahman.
Contrary to public belief DHCLG and the Commissioners still have some direct control over the council until 30th September 2018.
If the manner in which Youth Services are run is a litmus test for how the wider borough is being run then events in Wapping Gardens and Wapping Youth Club demonstrate that the DHCLG should consider extending their control of Tower Hamlets council.
Note: LW knows the identity of all residents mentioned but we have not been identified them due to the real risk of more intimidation.
Related Internet Links
- Tower Hamlets Council Youth Hubs – Tower Hamlets council
- Improved Youth Service is launched in Tower Hamlets – Tower Hamlets council
- Tower Hamlets to deliver more youth services – Tower Hamlets council
- Former Camden Council official, Ronke Martins-Taylor, claims promotion snub ‘racism’ – Camden New Journal
- Hamlets Youth Workers Alliance petition – Change.org