Disturbing footage shows London gangs filming themselves brutally beating and mugging teenagers to guard 'territory'

Police are appealing for information on the two linked attacks

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The Independent Online

Disturbing footage has emerged showing young gang members enforcing their “territory” in East London, brutally beating and robbing their teenage victims.

The two videos of violent assaults were filmed and shared on social media by the offenders themselves in an increasingly brazen trend.

In one attack, believed to have been filmed last week in the Roman Road area of Tower Hamlets, the youths surround a boy and crowd him against a garage.

“What’s your f***ing name bruv?” the leader demands. “You’re not getting your phone back! Why you drinking in my area for? Who the f*** do you think you are bruv?”

Group of youths attack boy leaving him bleeding

The boys take his smartphone and order him to remove his watch as a girl’s voice can be heard in the background, pleading for them to stop.

“Let me f*** this pussy over,” the leader says, before repeatedly punching him in the face to shouts of “f*** him up!” from friends as blood runs down the boy's face. 

The same gang filmed themselves carrying out another violent mugging along a residential street in nearby Newham, again in broad daylight.

A teenager can be seen cycling past as one of the boys says: “Obviously going to get it!”

At least six boys wearing hoodies and scarves then drag their victim off his bike and push him to the ground, punching him the face, beating him with a belt and repeatedly kicking him from all sides before fleeing with his bag.

They flee in different directions on foot and bicycles as car horns and screaming can be heard, with one passer-by rushing towards their victim as they retreat.

It comes amid local fears of a rise in gang violence and retaliation attacks, with groups attempting to violently control their perceived territory, complete with its links to drug dealing and street crime.

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Footage showing a teenage victim being attacked by gang members in Newham in September

With the rise of social media and smartphones, teenagers are increasingly filming and distributing footage of their attacks online in attempts to intimidate rivals and increase their own credibility, with the September videos spread via WhatsApp.

Sheldon Thomas, founder of the Gangsline charity, said gangs’ use of violent footage was increasing.

A former gang member himself, Mr Thomas has seen nine of his friends murdered and now helps young people attempting to cut their ties to the scene.

“We need to ask why somebody would want to do this in the first place,” he told The Independent. “Britain is a broken country with broken families. You’ve got ill-disciplined children in homes without an authority figure, their mums might be handling three kids. They don’t see the Britain that others see, they don’t see hope – they see a Britain where their role model is a drug dealer.”

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Footage showing a teenage victim being mugged by gang members near Roman Road, Tower Hamlets, in September

Mr Thomas said the young people are often drawn into gang culture by a combination of factors including domestic violence, emotional trauma, a lack of positive role models, coercion, unemployment and the criminality present in some of London’s most deprived estates.

“We have been talking about gangs for years and now we’ve got gangs in every borough in London,” he added.

“There has been no progress – 27,000 knife crimes last year is not making inroads. Children are carrying weapons to feel safe in their own neighbourhoods.”

Gangsline is calling on the Government to fund at least seven years of programmes - including visits to schools, prisons and affected estates by former gang members that teenagers can relate to.

Stephen Timms, the Labour MP for East Ham, told The Independent the police and local authorities were working to stop the “grim” violence shown in the videos.

“I welcome Newham Council’s current enquiry into gangs in the borough,” he said. “I hope that the result will be an effective response involving the council, the police and local voluntary agencies, so that the number of young people dragged into gang violence can be kept low.”

Lyn Brown, the Labour MP for West Ham, said violent youth crime was rising in her constituency. "The Tories have cut effective and progressive programmes that tackle gang violence like the ‘Ending Gang and Youth Violence’ scheme,” she added.

Newham Council is currently carrying out an inquiry into local gang crime, while Tower Hamlets has drawn up a three-year-strategy for ending serious youth crime in the borough. 

The Metropolitan Police are treating the two assaults as linked and have arrested two 16-year-old boys on suspicion of affray. A spokesman told The Independent the suspects, arrested in relation to the Tower Hamlets attack, had been bailed until late November as the hunt continues for accomplices.

“Officers believe a second video circulating showing a separate assault in Newham is linked,” he added. “Work continues to establish the exact location and dates of the incidents.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Gang and youth violence has a devastating impact on young people, their families and local communities. 

“In January, we set out our Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation approach which aims to reduce violence such as knife crime and protect vulnerable individuals from exploitation by gangs. We continue to work with local authorities and police to identify how best to address local challenges and identify the right measures to tackle this problem.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.