Police have urged young people to “put the knives down” as they warned the capital could see a record number of teenage killings this year.
The Metropolitan Police said the number of teenage homicides in London had already reached 26 in 2021 – just three less than the record 29 teenage killings recorded in 2008.
This was nearly beaten in 2017, when 27 teenage killings were recorded.
The Met’s lead on violent crime, Commander Alex Murray, said: “Part of talking to you today is to say to people, put the knives down, get rid of them – just get rid of them.”
He added: “We’ve had some tragic murders here, Camron Smith, Demarie Roye, Tai Jordan O’Donnell – three young people who have recently been murdered in Croydon, and it makes us want to work together, get to know each other and also to build trust with each other. We can all make a difference.”
Since the Black Lives Matter movement, police say there has been a “huge advancement” in the relationship between activists and the police, meeting weekly in Croydon to have “really challenging conversations”.
Community activist Anthony King said: “I don’t want to be associated with a record year of killings, it’s time we stop hiding the fact that knives are going missing from the kitchen.”
BBC 1xtra’s DJ Milktray, real name Martin Wright, hopes music will help combat the rise in teenage killings, having co-founded mentoring scheme The Hope Programme.
He said: “Music is a massive part of trying to connect with everybody, it is the language of the world.
“Drill music has really opened people’s eyes to really what is going on out here in our communities. As much as it can glorify, it’s a reality check and I feel for some parents it’s a way for them to see what’s really going on.”
Michael Pusey, better known as DJ CKFlash, who founded the Peckham BMX club, said: “You can make it as a music star, but it’s about what you put back into the community once you make it as a star.
“It’s all good to do your music, making money, have the flash car, but what are you going to put back into it, to show young people the journey from zero to hero.
“There’s enough of the talking, let’s do the doing, let’s keep the young people off the streets.”
Pastor Damian Luke, based in Croydon, said: “It’s heartbreaking for us because we know these kids, we have to hold funerals for children we have seen growing up, who have gone to the same school as our children.
“It feels like it’s your own child, but the point is, there is still hope.”