Rachid has no idea what the future holds, apart from the certainty that he’ll never visit east London’s Canning Town. “If I set foot there, I’ll get stabbed.” He has just turned 19, and two of his friends have already been murdered on the streets.
A trip to the nearest corner shop has become a daunting ordeal. “You’re constantly looking around, at the same time making sure you avoid looking at people. You don’t know what can happen. Anything can,” says the teenager, a former well-known gang affiliate who lives a seven-minute walk from Canning Town.
Reports of bloodshed ripple quickly through Newham’s gangland grapevine. On Monday, shocks reverberated through the borough after Abubakkar Jah, 18, known as Junior, was shot and stabbed to death in the middle of the afternoon near his Canning Town home. Three days earlier, a third of a mile away, another brutal afternoon murder occurred when 14-year-old Fares Maatou was stabbed in a busy street outside a pizza restaurant.
But it is the murder of Jah that sources…