Street gangs warning by Head teacher if Tower Hamlets takes over youth clubs

Street gangs could return to London’s East End after last summer’s riots if the Town Hall goes ahead with plans to take over and run youth clubs, a head teacher has warned.

Now 1,200 youngsters, teachers and youth workers have sent a petition to Tower Hamlets council protesting at the move.

Clubs are currently contracted to be run by three schools and a housing group.

But George Green’s Secondary head teacher Kenny Frederick on the Isle of Dogs fears their work over the past decade to combat street violence at night and weekends would be undone.

“This is a short sighted move in the aftermath of the riots,” she told the Advertiser.

“We work with the police and the community to make sure young people are occupied outside school hours—and it works!”

Her warning comes in a letter to the Mayor and to every councillor which pessimistically predicts that street gangs could return if the Town Hall takes over youth clubs.

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But a Town Hall spokeswoman said: “Taking charge will be cheaper and more efficient—nobody using the clubs would notice any difference because the changes would happen at management level.”

Mrs Frederick feels youth clubs needs to be locally-managed in places like the Isle of Dogs and elsewhere with large numbers of teenagers where in the past there’s been “anti-social behaviour and gang warfare.”

She insists: “Our clubs never shut because staff feel it’s unsafe—as with the previous regime. Parents now feel secure.”

Her 1,300-pupil school in Manchester Road, Cubitt Town, with its thriving sixthform of 141 students, works with police and community groups. Teachers know the youngsters well and quickly follow up anything that arises during evenings or weekends.

“My staff are there on the ground, should there be problems,” Mrs Frederick added. “We won’t sit back and revert to the ‘bad old days’ without a fight.”

The move to take the youth service back in-house after 11 years she feels is about “cost-cutting—not what is best for youngsters” and the communities they live in.