Two more teenagers have been stabbed to death within hours of one another in London as Sadiq Khan, the capital’s mayor, warned that the lifting of Covid restrictions was likely to lead to more violence in the coming weeks.
A 15-year-old died in Woolwich, south-east London, following a knife fight on Monday afternoon, while a 16-year-old lost his life in an attack at Vauxhall, in the south of the city, around six hours later.
It takes the number of teenagers killed on the capital’s streets so far this year to 20, surpassing the 17 killed in the whole of last year.
It also means this year is set to be the bloodiest for teenage homicides since the previous peak in 2008, when 29 lost their lives.
Teen victims map
Despite Scotland Yard promising to flood the capital’s crime hotspots with officers, there have been warnings that the lifting of lockdown, combined with the beginning of the school summer holidays, is likely to see a surge in teenage murders.
On Friday, Mr Khan and the Met Police announced a wide-ranging plan to crack down on violence over the coming months. But within hours of the plan being unveiled, the two teenagers had become knife victims.
The first incident took place just after 5.20pm on Monday when police were called to reports of a stabbing on Woolwich New Road. London Ambulance Service were called to the scene, where they found a 15-year-old boy who had suffered a stab wound. They provided first aid at the scene, but the victim was pronounced dead at 6.08pm.
Locals said the teenager was not in a gang but had become embroiled in a dispute with another youth following a row on the Snapchat social media site.
Shortly after the stabbing, police were called to a south London hospital where another 15-year-old had arrived suffering from a non life-threatening stab injury. He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of murder.
Detective Chief Inspector Perry Benton, of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: "We know that there were a lot of people around at the time who may have witnessed the events leading up to this incident. I’m sure people will have mobile phone footage from the scene and, if they believe it could assist our investigation, I would urge them to pass it on to us.
"One arrest has been made, but our enquiries are still at an early stage so I would ask anyone who knows anything about the motive for this attack, or who was responsible, to contact us immediately."
Fears of revenge attacks led to the police to impose a Section 60 order, allowing them greater stop and search powers in the Woolwich area.
Hours later, murder squad detectives were called to Oval Place in Vauxall, around 10 miles away, where they discovered a 16-year-old boy suffering from a stab wound. He was declared dead at the scene and his next of kin have been informed.
Flowers left at the scene of the fatal stabbing in Vauxhall
Credit: Victoria Jones/PA
Mr Khan said he was "heartbroken and appalled" at the latest deaths but warned there could be worse to come in the coming weeks.
He said: "A combination of the summer holidays, of the schools closing but also the restrictions being lifted, with good weather, could lead to an increase in violent crime."
Commander Helen Harper, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "We are going to do literally everything we can. There are going to be more police in hotspot areas where we know there is likely to be violence.
"We are looking at the release of our city from lockdown so actually more people will be out and about. We are absolutely passionately driven to keep people safe but we know that the community knows who are vulnerable and who may be bringing in drugs and bringing in weapons and we need to know these details. It’s a hard call, but hard calls save lives."