The London Evening Standard conducted a hard-hitting investigation into life on one of London’s most notorious housing estates, Angell Town estate in Brixton.
Like nothing else, estates epitomise the London that has been left behind, a London of deprivation, alienation and, in some cases, brutal gang violence and radicalisation.
Angell Town is an estate soaked in poverty with a history of violence going back generations. Alongside Campaigns Editor David Cohen, I spent a week on the estate meeting everyone from gang members to single mothers trying to stop their children entering into the cycle of violence, as well as what the locals call ‘the undies’ (plain-clothes undercover detectives) to see the estate from their perspective.
All told some 1.6 million Londoners – 20 per cent of the population – live on approximately 3,500 housing estates scattered across the capital. Some are pleasant places to live, but many host the highest crime rate, the worst poverty, the most over-crowding and biggest proportion of single parents in their borough. The rise of estate based gangs coupled with police warnings that estates are potential breeding grounds for religious extremism makes it clear: we ignore these areas of social exclusion at our peril.