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London violence ‘could get worse if youth services funding stops’

Three men in their 20s were killed in west-London this week, including aspiring sprinter Tashan Daniel.

The father of Tashan Daniel holds a photo of his son at a vigil in Hillingdon, west London (Steve Parsons/PA)
The father of Tashan Daniel holds a photo of his son at a vigil in Hillingdon, west London (Steve Parsons/PA)

By Emma Bowden, PA

Coaches from a scheme that trained an aspiring athlete killed at a Tube station have warned violence in London could rise if funding for youth services dries up.

Three men in their 20s were killed in west London this week, including sprinter Tashan Daniel, 20, who was stabbed to death at Hillingdon station.

He was a member of the Met-Track organisation, which aims to reduce anti-social behaviour in London.

Launched in 2005, Met-Track’s CEO John Powell – a retired Metropolitan Police superintendent – combined policing with his experience of athletics coaching in an effort to tackle youth crime across London.

The scheme was initially funded by the Metropolitan Police, who still act as a partner, but budget cuts to the force saw their financial sponsorship pulled, according to the organisation.

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Family and friends of Tashan Daniel at a vigil held at Hillingdon station (Steve Parsons/PA)

Funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, Met-Track’s current sponsor, comes to an end in August 2020, leaving them concerned about the ability to continue to support their work in schools.

Operations manager for Met-Track Matt Threadgold told the PA news agency another of the scheme’s pupils was stabbed to death in Wandsworth in June.

He said the cost of operating the scheme – which includes sessions on conflict resolution and stop and search – in one school over a whole academic year is £2,500.

“We want to extend the project and the current affairs of what’s happening to people in London, it seems there’s such a need for what we deliver,” he said.

“We’re trying to get the community more involved. We do need the funding to keep going but if the community can give back in support, in our opinion that’s the best way of going about it.”

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Coach Josh Swaray (left) and fellow runner Chaka Maillet paid tribute to Mr Daniel (Steve Parsons/PA)

But Mr Threadgold warned: “You see what it’s like now, even with these youth projects going on.

“If they dry up and then they go, you fear for what might be. It’s only getting worse at the moment.”

Mr Daniel’s Met-Track coach Josh Swaray said that the 20-year-old, who idolised Usain Bolt, had recently begun training for the indoor season with hopes of travelling to Florida in December.

“He was just that gifted, he was just that talented. He knew it, I knew it, everyone around us knew,” Mr Swaray told PA.

“I’d have people come up to me at competitions asking how I got him to do that, because he was just that good.”

Police said Mr Daniel was with a friend when he was attacked by two other men, and was knifed in front of horrified passengers.

Members of the public as well as paramedics and police officers tried to save Mr Daniel but he died on board a Tube carriage.

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The aspiring sprinter’s family paid respects to him at Hillingdon station (Steve Parsons/PA)

Chaka Maillet, who trained alongside Mr Daniel and quit his job as a photographer to pursue 200m sprinting full-time, called the 20-year-old’s death “chilling”.

“We were training with him on Monday and I saw him before he left, we always said bye,” he said.

“And the next day he’s gone, so it’s affected us a lot.

“We’re talking about Tashan – someone who was not affiliated in any way with all this street nonsense, any violence in London, he’s not that kind of person.”

Mr Swaray said the pair spoke daily and that he last saw Mr Daniel in a training session the day before he was killed.

“He is the only person that I can say was a perfect human being,” he said.

“People say to me it’s such a shame it happened to him, he was a good kid but no, he wasn’t a good kid, he was a perfect kid, there was nothing wrong with him.

“No one is perfect, but he really was. He did everything right.”

In a statement released following the death of Mr Daniel, Met-Track CEO Mr Powell said: “This is a tragedy, and you cannot imagine what something like this does to a family, and our thoughts are of course with them at this time.

“The people responsible for this need to look long and hard at themselves – they have brutally ended one life, and ruined their own.”

PA

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