Street brawls highlight gang problem


Earlier this month, a group of mainly young women brawled in the middle of Goswell Road, throwing chairs and punches and bringing traffic to a halt. The scene was captured on film by one bystander, who posted it on Facebook.

Only days after, another fight was captured on camera, this time on Upper Street.

Then, last weekend, between 20 and 30 boys confronted each other outside McDonald’s near Chapel Market. One boy tried to grab a ladder to use as weapon, but was stopped by a market trader.

These examples do not even scratch the surface.

Fights like these have been breaking out around the borough for a while, from near Angel Station, to Chapel Market and Hornsey Road. But now they are happening with more frequency.

More worryingly, these fights are happening in broad daylight, between 4pm and 6pm – just after school finishes.

One stall owner told the Islington Gazette that the 20-man brawl on Chapel Market had resulted from a standoff between college students and the “Cally Boys” gang from Caledonian Road.

Boys were heard screaming “Cally!” as the two gangs clashed.

The cause of this spike in violence is unclear. But it is evident from video evidence and testimony from bystanders that the violence, mostly concentrated around the Angel.

But Lior Briski, who owns Shake Gallery on Chapel Market opposite McDonald’s, claims that the fight involved more than 100 youths.

“There was a big scuffle with about 200 children all making a big noise, like an explosion,” he said.

They use this place as a battleground. McDonald’s is a well-known meeting place and it magnetises the trouble with youth.

“It’s almost like a tribal act. There’s no emotion involved, it’s almost like they’re in a trance.”

Caledonian Road resident Jackie Windybottom has lived in the area for 25 years.

“I’ve never seen as much fighting as there is at the moment. Not for the 10 years. I don’t know what has triggered this,” she said.

Local resident Eloise Shaw Tweeted: “Islington maccies in chapel street [sic] is so rough they have permanent bouncers on the door paahahah”.

Alan Perring, a security guard at McDonald’s on Chapel Market, said: “I witness arguments all the time. Some late at night when you get the drunks about.

“These kids do get rowdy after school. I imagine that’s where the fights come from.”

Some of the young women featured in the video of the Upper Street brawl can be clearly seen wearing lanyards marked with the City and Islington College logo, the largest school in the area.

This would suggest that at least some of those involved in the violence are from the Goswell Road school.

The college is probing the video and has launched an investigation.

City and Islington college said: “We are aware that there have been incidents of anti-social behaviour involving young people in the Upper Street area.


“We are investigating whether our students have been directly involved and breached our student code of conduct.

“If the latter proves to be the case, we will take appropriate action using our student disciplinary procedures.

“Without exception, we expect all of our students to adhere to an agreed code of conduct which sets a high standard of behaviour inside and outside the college.”

Known to local kids as ‘Candi’, City & Islington College has five major sites across the borough.

It completed a £64 million building programme in 2005 – at the time the largest investment in further education in the history of the United Kingdom.

Lior Briski thinks that these fights are being cause their environment.

“This is a trend of groups of kids fighting. It’s like a new wave of extremism, with young people just acting violent.

“It’s a sign of the times where kids are frustrated, they live in a concrete jungle and they want to let off some steam.”

Islington Police were not available for comment.