THE killers of 16 year-old Agnes Sina-Inakoju fled the chicken shop in Hoxton where she was shot on mountain bikes, the police reports say. Kids on mountain bikes, but armed with a gun. How did it come to that?
I was down in Hoxton yesterday reporting on the case, filing this report. In the learning and telling of this tragedy, one of the deep concerns should be a growing, detectable numbness in London to violent deaths like this. What was once a truly unthinkable occurrance is now no longer only confined to the realm of nightmares. It’s happened right there last Wednesday.
And every time it happens, there are promises to learn lessons, to reconnect with teenagers, usually pledges to give them more youth clubs. But kids have gathered at impromptu shrines like the one that’s outside the Hoxton Chicken and Pizza shop tonight before, the debate has been had and the question remains: does anybody in Hackney – or Islington, or Camden, or anywhere else – know how to avoid it happening again?
It’s a cliche to ask whether if a 16 year-old girl had been murdered like this in Hampstead or a rural village outside of London, the demands for immediate action would be louder. Whether promises in those in power and the brink of power would come thick and fast. Who knows? In Hackney, people probably feel a more acute sense of can’t-stop-it despair than other areas. As recently as March, another teenager was killed in that borough after being stabbed.
But at this time particularly, an event as sad as the death of Agnes Sina-Inakoju could be, should be at the front of the election debate. We should hear what bold ideas the people who want our votes have to deal with youth crime.
In fact, our leaders-to-be should be asked today, right now, how they will make sure adolescents put down their arms and shun the calling from the gangs. Just give them a youth club isn’t the answer anymore. Table tennis won’t solve this.