Anti-knife crime volunteers 'threatened with blade while protecting boy from gang' in Hornchurch

TAKSAL members

Take a Knife Save a Life (TAKSAL) founder, Stephen Gowers, said his volunteers - Credit: Grant MacMaster

Anti-knife crime volunteers have said they were threatened with a blade when they intervened in an argument in Hornchurch. 

On May 2 in Harrow Lodge Park, Take a Knife Save a Life (TAKSAL) members had to take action to prevent young boys from potentially being hurt.  

A Met spokesperson said officers were called to the Hornchurch park at 3.25pm: “A boy in his early teens reported that another boy, who he was arguing with, had intimated he had a knife. 

“Officers attended the scene and a number of suspects were stopped and searched, no weapons were found.” 

Founder of the charity, Stephen Gowers, 40, said he and volunteers Robert Dean and Tony Joyett escorted a group of young people out of the park when they spotted “bullying" taking place.

Manning Fair was taking place in Harrow Lodge Park at the time, but it was fully protected thanks to metal detectors operated by VIP Security. 

It was outside the fair that trouble kicked off.  

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Stephen said: “The gang of around 10 kids were still trying to get this young boy.”  

Confronting the culprits, Stephen said a teenager “lifted his t-shirt as if he was going to remove something from his trousers". 

He added: "I tried to close the distance and grab him before he could pull it [the knife] and he backed off."

Following this, TAKSAL members managed to scare the group off.  

Later in the day, Stephen said a woman with a pram and her teenage son were targeted by another “gang of youths” - in that instance, TAKSAL members diffused the situation by chasing the group away.  

The 40-year-old said one of the culprits had a “massive knife”.  

According to Stephen, both incidents targeted children who were “nice kids" and the first victim's father thanked TAKSAL members.

Weapons sweeps

TAKSAL volunteers at the fair - Credit: TAKSAL

Stephen said: “We served our purpose. We always hope there’s no trouble but when there is, we’re prepared for it.  

“TAKSAL was set up to protect young children and we did just that. It just goes to show how much our organisation is needed.” 

Volunteers from TAKSAL who joined Stephen at the fair included Robert and Tony, as well as John Adam, Christine Bromfield, Grant MacMaster, Catherine Rogers, Suzanne White and Jan Sargent.  

Stephen said the group put in more than 30 hours over the weekend.  

Last year, fair owner James Manning allowed children with additional needs to enjoy the rides for free before it opened to the public.  

The Met said no injuries were reported and no arrests have been made.