Thursday, August 23, 2007

Shooting in Letchworth Garden City

I've been following the updates on this story through the day, the last update was just a minute ago:

By Corporate Communication Dept

POLICE can now confirm there have been a total of six arrests in connection with a shooting incident which happened at Boscombe Court, Letchworth Garden City at 11.40am today.

Five men, four who are in their 20’s and one who is in his mid 30’s, have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. A woman in her 30’s has also been arrested in connection with the incident.

Two men remain in hospital at this time.

Although police are seeking witnesses and information about the incident, officers are confident at this stage that there is no-one outstanding in relation to what is an isolated dispute.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Kitching said: “This is obviously a very serious situation but we are confident that we know who was involved and what caused the incident.

“This is an isolated dispute but we are very mindful how residents in Letchworth Garden City will be feeling at this time and want to reassure them at this stage.”

Anyone with information should call Hertfordshire Constabulary on 0845 3300 222. Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. You do not have to give your name and you could be entitled to a cash reward."

Letchworth is the town I grew up in and where my family still live.

The town has a population of 33,600. Its main claim to fame is as the world’s first Garden City (it was built shortly before the First World War and has lots of green spaces and all the houses have gardens). It is largely a commuter town (to London, Cambridge or Stevenage) with a disproportionate number of young families. It has the UK's only population of black squirrels. Here is a picture:

I know this blog has some US readers and it would be quite understandable for them to think this isn't quite as big a deal as I'm making it out to be. So, to make things clear: Gun crime is an entirely different animal in the UK.

Gun control is so tight (our sport shooting teams have trouble practicing) that gun crime in an area tends to suggest a massive law and order breakdown. We know that is happening in some areas of London and the Midlands and Northern cities but for it to be starting to spread, even tentatively, to peaceful Home Counties Towns is truly alarming.

I could be wrong. This could just be a freak incident with a shooting by a group of crazies but the fact six people, rather than a lone gunman, have been arrested certainly suggests it is a gang issue. If gun crime has spread to Letchworth David Cameron's description of ‘anarchy in the UK’ is in no way hyperbole.

Update: This is sounding more and more gruesome. While the victims are apparently only wounded they were shot in the face.

Again, while this could turn out to be a freak incident I do think it is significant if the law and order breakdown is spreading to places like Letchworth. It suggests that the problem is not just a breakdown in certain communities but a genuine national crisis.


Anonymous said...

"We know that is happening in some areas of London and the Midlands and Northern cities but for it to be starting to spread, even tentatively, to peaceful Home Counties Towns is truly alarming."

Oh come on, please. How Tory can you possibly be? "By Jove Jenkins, we know that blasted north is a wasteland but, dear Lord, how can this be happening to our beloved Hertfordshire?"

Matthew Sinclair said...

Calm down dear. The first city I named was London which is... wait for it... where I live.

Who are you and why don't you read my blog rather than look for spurious reasons to write off what I say.

zach said...

Our lax gun control laws have enabled dealers to flood urban areas with. How can making it easier for, say, malicious crack kingpins to get their hands on guns be a step in the right direction? I argue in my op-ed on the Huffington Posttoday that while the way to get to the root of most social problems is to provide economic opportunity, it’s foolish to repeal gun control laws. Check it out hereand please share your comments.

IanB said...

Ah! Another fellow ex-Letchworth resident who has had their flabber gasted by the shooting (I don't think Letworth has had this much press exposure...ever).

When I lived and grew up there in the 70's and 80's there were plenty of dodgy characters who we all knew were on the shady side of dodgy but I don't really get the impression that LGC has sunk any further into lawlessness - this definitely seems like a one-off with a bunch of people involved in a drug-related fight.

I went back to Letchworth for the first time in many years only a few months ago and it has changed immensely from my time there - more than one pub for a start. I remember the Black Squirrel opening as its first proper pub - before that my father frequented "The 'blems" - translation: The Four Emblems working men's club - which, along with The Broadway Hotel was one of the few places to serve booze. Apart from that and a few new buildings not a lot has changed...even with mentalists shooting each other in the street.

Martin said...

I suspect you'll find they were all on a day trip from Sandy...

Anonymous said...

i personally konw all involved. it was nevermeant to go that far.

Anonymous said...

wow i live in los angeles, im ex letchworth born and bred and i have never known anything like this there.

Ex-Resident said...

I used to live in Letchworth and I've got to say that there has always been fairly dodgy stuff going on - Stevenage & Luton are more common local battlegrounds for this sort of thing mind you.

The big difference is doing it in the town centre on Thursday lunch time. What's that about? Sounds unplanned so I believe it got out of hand, but that means someone had a gun on them as a matter of course and that's worrying.

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