Harry Yorke, Telegraph, April 5, 2018
In the space of a decade London hospitals have gone from treating men in their twenties for knife and gun wounds to children still in their “school uniforms”, one of the capital’s leading trauma surgeons has said.
Martin Griffiths, the lead surgeon for Barts NHS Health Trust, has warned that London’s spiralling murder rate has resulted in a “sea change” in medical practice, with medics now performing life-saving surgery on teenagers on a daily basis.
It comes after two more victims were stabbed to death in London last night, a man thought to be in his 20s and one in his 50s, taking the total number of people murdered in the capital in the first three months of the year to 50.
On Tuesday, 16-year-old Amaan Shakoor became the youngest murder victim in London so far this year after he was fatally shot on Monday in Walthamstow.
His death came after that of Tanesha Melbourne, 17, who was gunned down around 30 minutes earlier just three miles away in Tottenham. Both were apparently casualties of gang violence.
Amid the highest rate of fatal stabbings in England and Wales since 2010, Mr Griffiths said that colleagues who had served in Afghanistan compared the situation in London to Camp Bastion, the military base situated in Helmand Province, the most dangerous part of the country.
“What we are seeing is that people’s attitudes to violence is changing,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“Whereas five to six years ago the news of a five-year-old boy being stabbed was a horror story, now it’s normal. People expect to hear about people being killed on a daily basis.
“We routinely have children under our care, 14, 15-year-olds are daily occurrences. We used to look after people in their twenties, now it’s people in their mid- to late teens and children, children in school uniforms are being admitted under our care with knife and gun wounds.
“There’s been a sea change in our practice in the last few years. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of people who have been injured, but more worryingly, the number of injuries they sustain per person has increased.
“Some of my military colleagues have described our work here as being similar to being at Bastion, which is a very worrying comment to hear.”
It comes after London’s murder rate exceeded New York’s in February, with 15 people killed during a spike in gun and knife incidents.
Eight Londoners were murdered between March 14 and March 20 alone and the total number of London murders, even excluding victims of terrorism, has risen by 38 per cent since 2014.
David Lammy said it was the worst period “I’ve ever seen” in the 18 years he has served as Labour MP for Tottenham.
Pointing to the trends fuelling the crisis, Mr Lammy said that the police appeared to have lost control of an £11billion drugs market operating in Britain, the largest in Europe.
“I’ve seen four deaths in the London borough of Haringey… there are parents, families, friends, schools grieving and I’m afraid there is no sign of a reduction in the violence,” he continued. “We are the drugs market of Europe.
“They are as available as ordering a pizza. You can order them on WhatsApp, Snapchat.
“I have not had a phone call from the Home Secretary, the Mayor [Sadiq Khan], no one has come to visit my constituency. Frankly I’m sick of it being used as a political football.
“I’m saying there is a McMafia that needs to be tackled, there is a drugs market that is the biggest in Europe.”