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North West London is known for its landscape. The gardens of Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill from where one can have a beautiful view of London, and Hampstead Heath that has the wilds, ponds and pools, North West London is the most loved parkland in London. One can find all, be it culture, sports, diversity, theatre, entertainment, village neighbourhoods, elegant villa style housing, interesting markets place, music culture, and community matters. One can see Lord’s Cricket Ground, London Zoo, beautiful mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre at Regent’s Park, Victorian, Queen Anne and Arts and Crafts homes of West Hampstead, or the music venues at Camden Town.
Grahame Park is a housing estate located in North West London. This estate was named in honour of Claude Grahame-White, who established here the original aerodrome and aviation school (Hidden London, 2015). It has 1,777 council homes (Estate Watch, 2020).
The 2016 Barnett London Borough Equalities Impact Assessment showed that in-migration is driven by employment growth, population growth, and expanding world class higher education sector. The Assessment shows that there has been a shortfall of new homes since the early 2000s (Taylor, 2019). This shows that the lack of employment growth has also affected in-migration. New Registration of migrant workers for the years 2011/2012 show that the migration in Colindale, where Grahame Park is located, is at 55.3%, which is higher that Barnet and London at 37.5% and 45.8% respectively (Barnet London Burough, 2016). This means there is a steady employment growth and resulting in-migration
The Guardian reported on 24 July 2017 of a murder of an innocent teenager with a “Rambo-style knife” by two 15-year-old known members of the Grahame Park estate gang (The Guardian).
Times reported that police were called on October 11, 2020 at around 10.30pm to the Grahame Park Estate to reports of a bullet being fired (Times, 2020).
Evening Standard reported on 26 October 2014 of arrest of six teenage boys on suspicion of attempted murder of a man causing a serious bodily assault on the Grahame Park Estate (Evening Standard, 2014).
It has been observed that the inward looking design of Grahame Park Estate contributed to the fear of crime. This estate is one of the most deprived estates in terms of employment, social and economic exclusion and physical isolation (Barnet London Borough , 2016).
The 2016 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) by London Borough Council showed that Grahame Park estate and the West Hendon estate are the two most Lower layer Super Output Area (LSOAs) in They both are amongst the top 5% most deprived LSOAs in London and 10% most deprived LSOAs in England. Grahame Park is the most deprived LSOA in Colindale ranked 9th nationally in terms of Barriers to Housing and Services domain. Due to such varied deprivation, crime is the nature outcome (Barnet London Borough , 2016).
The 2016 Barnett London Borough Equalities Impact Assessment showed recorded criminal offences per thousand population in 2014/2015 in Colindale. The most prevalent crimes were violence against person, theft, burglary, and criminal damage. The actual crime rate in Colindale was found at 58.9%, lower than the 83.3% of London (Barnet London Borough , 2016). .
The deprivation prevalent in Grahame Park Estate is a major factor to the crime statistics. This estate is highly deprived in terms of employment. The 2015 IMD showed that Grahame Park ranks in the 10% most deprived nationally for employment. It ranks London’s 10% most deprived and within the 10% most income deprived nationally London (Barnet London Borough , 2016).
The 2016 Barnett London Borough Equalities Impact Assessment showed that in 2013 in Colindale the proportion of people claiming job seekers allowance was at 3.22% higher than the national figures at 2.9%. Long term unemployment rates are low London (Barnet London Borough , 2016).
Economic theory of crime states that increased unemployment rates lead to higher property crime rates. It is not just the issue of high unemployment, Grahame Park Estate is drowning in social problems. There are a lot of single-parent families and half the residents are under the age of 20 (BBC , 2002). Unemployment is one factor, but with the prevalence of serious drug problems and high socio-economic deprivation and physical isolation, crime is a natural outcome.
Grahame Park estate is also called as 300 Blocks Plus. ‘300 blocks plus’ is a term used to describe the size of the Grahame Park Estate. Colindale ward, where Grahame Part Estate is located, has mixed ethnicity with 12.8% Black African, highest proportion Chinese ethnic origin, highest proportion of Muslims and joint lowest proportion of Jewish residents (Burough, 2015).
Grahame Park does not have a dedicated residents association or residential community action group (Barnet London Borough , 2016). So, community celebrations are organised by private bodies.
Grahame Park estate has the Urban Gamez organised by Royal Air Force Museum annually. There are sports, music, arts and other fun activities (Royal Air Force Museum , 2020).
In 2017, Outreach Barnet and Genesis Housing Association organised an event for the African and Caribbean people where over 100 support providers, community members and customers of the Outreach Barnet came together at the Grahame Park Community Hall to celebrate the achievements and history of African and Caribbean people (Desborough, 2017).
The area is known for its rapping culture. North West London is also termed “North Weezy”. Honey G I one such artist, who is a representation of the rapping culture, which depicts the ghettos of the North West London.
Harlesden falls in the London Borough of Brent. It was a rural village back in the 19th century.
From the late Victorian times until 1930s, housing spread across Harlesden. After the World War I, big industrial estates and large factories were built. So, it began the immigration. The 1950s, 1960s and 1970s saw continued immigration from Ireland, Caribbean, Indian sub-continent and Africa. This led to the formation of a vibrant, diverse community with Irish, Jamaicans, Somalis, Tamils, Afghans, Pakistanis, Brazilians, Polish and Portuguese. Immigrants formed an increasing proportion of Harlesden’s population.
July 2020, a boy was shot in the head.
June 2020, a man in his twenties was rushed to hospital after being stabbed in north-west London.
Harlesden saw the rise on number of murders and becoming a crime hotspot starting 1999. It saw several yardies rival gangs came into existence. It also became one of London's main crack cocaine trading centres. 2001 saw Harlesden holding the highest murder rate in Britain. The late 2000s saw a reduction in the crime rates
As reported by My London News, the London Borough of Brent itself has recently seen nearly 19,000 crimes so far this 2020. The Metropolitan Police reported that 18,769 crimes have occurred in Brent between January 1 and August 31, 2020.
This 2020, Harlesden has reported 1,518 crimes so far. Since February, there has been steady increase in crime. There are 235 offences in June 2020. 515 offences of violence against the person have been committed. Harlesden is reported to be the crime capital of the UK. It once recorded the highest murder rate.
Harlesden has also the high levels of deprivation in terms of unemployment, low incomes, homelessness, and overcrowding with dense population. The Harlesden Neighbourhood Plan 2019 - 2034 shows that Harlesden has a low ratio of jobs to population. In 2013, the number of jobs was at low 19.7% as compared to London at 55%. However, substantial job opportunities were just outside the ward in Park Royal. Most of the local employment is provided by the town centre along with the public sector, including schools, health services and public transport. Because of this, unemployment is generally high with high proportion of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance (8.5% in 2015).
Harlesden has the vibrant Caribbean culture. In the first year of the 21st century, it was the subject of a BBC television documentary series, The Heart of Harlesden.
Harlesden has a mixed of Afro-Caribbean heritage, Irish, Brazilian, Portuguese, Somalis, Latin Americans and East Africans.
The Town Centre is characterised by its social, tolerant, diverse and cultural bound traditions.
The vibrancy in varied culture produces a unique background in live and independent music scene. It is a major centre of the black music industry. It is also unofficially named reggae capital of London. This region has seen iconic Mean Fiddler venue at 16-24 High street between 1982 and 2000; the historical Picture Palace building known for live music. Starlight and Hawkeye, independent record shops, play active part in liveliness of daily life.
This region has produced many acclaimed musicians, such as Carrol Thompson, Janet Kay, and Daddy Ernie. Leading record distributors Jetstar was founded here in 1967, which produced Beenie Man and Freddie McGregor.
Stonebridge falls in the London Borough of Brent. It is on the western part of Harlesden with the largest electoral ward in the borough. This region is the most populated in Brent with majority of Afro-Caribbean heritage.
The end of the Second World War saw deficit in labour in UK textiles factories, public transport systems and the NHS. The government started sponsoring job ads overseas. This led to Black Afro-Carribean migrants from West Indies arrival from 1948 onwards. The first of those who arrived settled in Stonebridge, Brixton, Catford and Tottenham. These areas were prominent for London’s Afro- Carribean community (Digby, 2020). This region also has Somalians, who predominately live here.
Stonebridge became a crime hotspot with several rival yardie gangs.
The Guardian reported that the year 2005 saw Stonebridge estate an all-out gang warfare. Young 14 year old boys openly carried guns. Firing was common. Abuse of crack cocaine and violent crime are common. Difficulties in police investigation and bringing criminals to justice are also common (The Guardian, 2009).
Stonebridge recorded the highest gun crime in London. There are reported cases of violent and sexual offences incidents (My London News, 2019). It has gained the reputation of being amongst the most dangerous places in the UK.
Gun crime is the serious problem. Rapper from the USG crew, Smalls, was murdered on 5 July, 2019. On July 16 2020, a member of Harrow Road Boyz gang was shot dead. The tit-for-tat shootings are the norm.
The Metropolitan Police reported that Stonebridge has already seen 1,753 crimes this year. It holds Stonebridge as the most dangerous place to live in Brent. Violence against the person accounts to 582. Vehicle offences account to 339. Theft accounts to 233. They are the top three most committed crimes. More crimes have occurred in Stonebridge than in any other ward in Brent (My London News, 2019). The overall crime rate is 40% higher than that for the rest of Brent (Brent Council).
Stonebridge is an economically deprived area with lower rate of home ownership than the national average. It has the most acute levels of deprivation in terms of unemployment, low income, education, crime, health, quality of the local environment and barriers to housing. Unemployment rate of 9.8% is nearly double the Brent average (Brent Council).
The London Borough of Brent as such has been facing from long-term social deprivation and disadvantage issues. This issue is particularly confined to Stonebridge, Harlesden, Carlton, St Raphael and Roundwood. They come within the top 10% most deprived in the UK. Each of them scores 50% higher than the Borough average (ILD 2000) (Brent Council)..
There are private efforts that provide self employing skill trainings, such as the Brent Start Adult Education Courses that provides job opportunities and courses for acquiring new skills.
Because of the prevalence of high crime scene in the area, youth programmes and other independent projects lead the community preservation initiatives.
Justin Finlayson, a well-known local music producer who grew up in Brent, founded the United Borders Project. It aims to unite young people from rival areas in Stonebridge and Church Road through the medium of music and media classes.
Music and art seems to the principle medium that is aiming to uplift the community. There are other private foundations, just like the United Borders Project. The Back To Front is a project produced by the Jason Roberts Foundation, It showcases sound systems from the golden age of reggae and rare groove. Private venues organise events such as Fame the Musical at the newly opened Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre or Wallis Eates, a comics artist and storyteller, performance at the Lexi Cinema.
It has been observed that the manner in which the wards are build contribute to the development and socio-economic issues of the ward, as seen in the case of Graham Park Estate
In terms of housing, the blocks and ghettos should be remodelled. Lewisham Council is an example of creative solutions to the housing crisis. Its pop-up modular housing village can provide temporary homes at a cheap price with easy to dismantle and portability features. New sites could be built in the model as Northwood, which is a suburb with fast links to the centre and countryside (SPITTLES, 2018). The Mayor of London has set a recent strategy according to which the overall strategic housing growth in North West London would be 39.1% to drive new homes market (MacFarlane).
Together with the housing plan, quite necessary is to create workforce. For instance, NHS has been working with six West London colleges to deliver health and social care vocational qualifications. The aim is to run employment and skills programmes in order to increase employment of residents for local health or social care organisations (Confederation, NHA, 2020). Such programme will create employment opportunities, increase community interaction and involvement and create a positive environment for the youths to prosper.
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