Croydon is home to a diverse multicultural population which is felt as you navigate your way through the borough. Arts, business, commerce, and sport have thrived within the borough over the last few decades which have made notable impacts around the world. Whether you’re over by West Croydon station or by London road, which boasts a mixture of Caribbean and South Asian stores which are comprised of cultural fashion, hair, cuisine, music and religious places of worship or over by the east of the borough, which in recent years has become the entertainment epi centre due to the additions of Box park and designer high rise apartments, however Croydon’s historical heritage shines through with architecture from the Anglo Saxon period, notably the Croydon clock tower, surrey street market, Whitgift Almhouses and the grade 1 parish church.


In a recent study conducted and published by Croydon council, Croydon is home to the largest population of under 18 young people in London. Croydon is split into 4 wards. The most deprived of those wards is West Croydon which has some of the biggest pockets of deprivation which has been documented over the last ten years. Areas such as Waddon, Sumner Road, Eastney Road, Hand croft Road estate, Leighton Street and the Addington estate are places most affected. The majority of the exploited young people within the borough come from these neighbourhoods and communities which have the highest incidents of serious youth violence, gang activity and exploitation.

It begs the question does the socioeconomic issues within the borough have any correlation to the rise in serious youth violence (SYV)? between July 2019 and July 2023, Croydon was ranked 2nd in SYV crime count among the other London boroughs and 15th in rate per 1,000 people. 80% of the victims are male, with an increasing trend for female victims, approximately 2% annually during the last 3 years. This has been highlighted in more recent times after the murder of a 15-year-old girl in 2023 outside the Whitgift centre in Croydon which sparked a nationwide rallying cry to address SYV within London.


Unfortunately, this issue has long existed before most of these studies were undertaken as in the mid-2000s I was a teenager who grew up within the impoverished Leighton street/Hand croft road district, where I could feel the strain of belonging to a single parent household. due to this I yearned to have things of my own and help my mother who at one time had multiple jobs to just make ends meet. It led me down a path of seeking validation, the need to be respected, the need for finances beyond legitimate means and the need to be recognised. violence, exploitation, and gang membership soon followed which in turn created blurred territorial lines and allegiances to gangs based all over South London. This landed me in trouble, and I became embroiled in a spate of violent incidents – one resulting in my stabbing on New Year’s Eve 2009. This then led to conflict across Croydon between different gangs and groups of young people which contributed to the term of ‘post code wars.’

After changing my life for the better I endeavoured to giving back to young people who may have had shared similar experiences, or young people who didn’t share this reality to create awareness. At Ascent Children’s Services I was given this opportunity as I was named as the ‘Head of engagement and Independence’. Within my role I mentor a case load of young people who I advise, steer, teach, and advocate for their social, health and educational needs. I also provide awareness on SYV to carers and staff across the entire organisation as unfortunately it is still prevalent as of 2024 and its imperative that professionals and carers all have the same knowledge to best support our young people and keep them free from all types of harm and exploitation.

As of 2024 I am providing events, competitions, and activities for young people as well as making sure I am engaging in a trauma informed sensitive manner. My hope is that Croydon continuously evolves and creates safe spaces for not just gang affected young people but all young people within the borough, but also becomes a place where young people can learn and live without the threat of poverty and violence.

If you are passionate about safeguarding our young people from the harm of serious youth violence or wish to increase your knowledge here are some organisations that I would recommend you link to.

St Giles Trust
Serious violence strategy GOV.UK

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I hope it’s been informative and has raised awareness of the ongoing issue we have in South London dealing with SYV.


— By Dimintri Jordan

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