After last week’s events near Wapping Youth Club there has been complete silence from the council or our elected representatives about the multiple incidents in Wapping Gardens where female residents walking their dogs have been verbally abused, threatened and intimidated.
So LW asked some questions instead.
Answers from a council spokesperson are given below:
Q1: Has the temporary closure of Wapping Youth Centre been considered by the council?
A: Any incident involving children and adults in an altercation is extremely concerning and the incident is being investigated further.
It would be unfair to close the youth centre as this would deprive other young people in the area of the resource.
Our initial investigation shows that the young people involved in the incident were not attending the Wapping Youth Centre on the day the incident occurred.
As the issue escalated, some of the young people involved went into the youth centre to alert staff to the event.
Q2: What measures have been put in place to prevent the threats of violence to local residents?
A: The Youth Service is working with residents, local councillors, community safety, the local police and young people to support mediation in the local area, to reduce tensions and to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.
Q3: Have the youth workers who were present during last week’s confrontation with residents been interviewed?
Q4: If so what is their version of events?
A: When the youth workers were alerted to the incident by young people, they attempted to intercede in order to calm things down. In the process, youth workers were verbally abused by residents. The youth workers separated the residents from the young people by moving some of the young people into the Youth Centre.
Q5: Has the council arranged for the police to be in attendance at the Youth Centre on Wednesday to stop more ASB and prevent any confrontation between those using the youth club and local residents?
A: The police were called to the incident and the Head of Youth Service has been liaising with officers directly to ensure that they are party to any future plans for mediation in the area.
Anyone else notice the spin on those answers? That it is Wapping residents who were at fault, not the group of youths?
The version of events given by the Youth Workers is that the youths causing the trouble were ‘were not attending’ the Youth Centre and that it was the youths who went into the centre to tell the staff what was going on. (Odd you might think if they had nothing to do with the Youth Centre but hey…)
Our favourite answer is the reply to Question 3 which portrays the Youth Workers as the heroes of the hour who tried to calm things down who were then verbally abused by residents.
The bit that the council spokesperson seems to have not addressed is the ‘why and how did this start?’ bit.
Odd that, innit?
But as the incident is being investigated further maybe this will be addressed?
You know, the threatening women with violence thing? Or are we so politically correct in this borough that we now dare not countenance the facts but prefer to believe our own self-serving fiction?
The fact that this group of youths are Bangladeshi is irrelevant. Most of the youngsters around Wapping are Bangladeshi and, as we have said before, if there were groups of white European / Somali / Chinese / Lithuanian / Whatever youngsters hanging around Wapping they would be causing the grief.
Closing Youth Centre unfair to who?
LW’s favourite line from the council response is this: “It would be unfair to close the youth centre as this would deprive other young people in the area of the resource.”
Er…well yes, it would. Which is tough. And that is the point. It would be wrong to close Wapping Youth Centre permanently. But it would be sensible to close it temporarily.
Because what about it being unfair on residents that they can no longer use their park for fear of intimidation? And that this fear now deprives other residents in the area from using their resource?
LW was not present at any of these incidents. But we do know every one of the women who were threatened, most of them for many years. The insinuation that they were in some way responsible for the events in Wapping Gardens is insulting.
Did these women swear at the Youth Workers? Quite likely they did and with good reason. LW would have done the same thing as would any other reasonable person.
“We got a video of them!”
We know one of the two residents in question did indeed say “F**k off out of this park” to the youths which seems fair as at the time she and her partner were confronting between five and six laughing and grinning males who seemed to have a point to prove and were behaving in an aggressive manner.
Let’s face it, if a woman wants to pick a fight with a group of youngster she is not going to take her Dachshund along for back up, is she?
The reason we know that that the exact phrase “F**k off out of this park” was used was because one of the youths took a video of part of the incident and distributed it via WhatsApp to his mates. And some kind person sent it to us.
Towards the end of this video – which we do not intend to publish at the moment – one of the youths says “We got a video of them!”
How right he was. But not in the way he thought.
Wapping residents have identified at least one of the youths from this video. He is 13 apparently and an ex-pupil of St. Peter’s London Docks.
All the youths in the video, which is of very good quality, can be identified. We just need to grab the frames where their faces are clearly visible.
Should we post them on LW so that their families and school teachers can see what these guys get up to? Maybe. Maybe not.
To prove we have the whole video we have published an image of one of the youths who thinks intimidating women is one big laugh.
You still laughing?
We also might publish the full video in future so people can make their own minds up about what happened.
We would still like to think that the authorities – be that the police, the council, our councillors, Youth Services and their workers or whoever – can sort this out.
In the meantime LW urges everyone in Wapping to attempt to use the parks as normal. Our parks are for everyone – including the kids causing the trouble. If they behave, respect others and respect the law.
If try to use a park but you are intimidated from doing so phone the police using 999 if you feel you are in danger or have been threatened. If there is no immediate risk call 101. We need everyone to make calls and not assume someone else will do it.
Whatever the end result of all this we must all agree on one thing. We will not be forced out of our green spaces. If we allow that to happen then next we will be afraid to walk the streets.
Sad thing is that for many in Wapping this is already true. And if this is the situation in sleepy little E1W what is happening in the rest of the borough?