By Regina Motalib
A mother who was caught up in the chaotic scenes at Blackheath funfair yesterday evening has spoken of her horror after a trip to the fair with her young children descended into chaos with mobs of disorderly youths running amok.
Tracy, who only wanted to give her first name, from Lewisham, was at the fair with her two young children aged 10 and eight, and some of their friends.
She said: “We were having a pleasant time and my children were very excited to be going to the funfair. We were aware of a large group of youths running in our direction.”
She explained how her children were terrified as she tried to get out of the way. She added: “There were many families with young children in the area and someone could have easily got knocked over and hurt badly.
“As we were trying to leave, we heard people saying someone had been stabbed and acid was also being thrown.”
Tracy described how her children were left traumatised. She said: “My friend’s little daughter was crying and my children also became very distressed.
“My main concern was to get the children away from the horrific scene. It was terrifying to see violent and aggressive groups of youths allegedly with weapons, who seemed determined to cause disorder and disruption.
“They spared no thoughts and consideration to the families with young children who had come to enjoy the funfair.”
Tracy expressed her dismay at the level of organised gang-related violence in the area. She said: “Although it later transpired that there was no acid attack or stabbing, I can understand why people may have thought the worst.
“Sadly, we have a problem with gangs in South London and not enough is being done to address the problem. It makes me so angry as a mother to know that so little is being initiated by the police and Mayor of London and the Government to tackle this gang problem we have on our doorstep.
“It puts us all at risk and affects our children’s safety and well-being.”
Tracy’s friend Amy lives near to Blackheath Common and believes social media companies need to do more to tackle anti-social behaviour amongst young people.
She said: “Apparently this was organised over TikTok. I know this isn’t the fault of social media companies but they do play a part and need to monitor youths who use these platforms to organise and promote gang-related activity and violence.
“I want to move away from the area as I no longer feel safe raising a young family in South London.”
Riot vans and dozens of police were on the scene after they were called at 4.20pm after reports of “antisocial behaviour and a number of assaults”. A cordon was put up and police officers created a human barrier to disperse the crowds.
A Met Police spokesman said: “Following a thorough search of the area no victim was found. Officers are therefore content that no stabbing took place.
“A number of police resources were sent to the scene and a cordon was put in place to help disperse the large number of people in attendance. By about 6.15pm the area had been cleared.
“Seven people have been arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and related offences.”
The fair will reopen tomorrow at 1pm.
Joey Noyce, of James Noyce & Sons Funfairs, said they were in talks with the council and police to deliver a safe experience for their customers.
He said: “We have been in discussions with Greenwich council, the police and all relevant safety groups to see what measures can be put in place so something like this doesn’t happen again.
“We have increased the numbers of on-site security, we also have dog units patrolling the perimeter fencing to ensure every customer comes through the two designated entrances.
“We have CCTV at each entrance, we’re increasing security at the entrance. But we do ask customers to be patient as bag searches will be implemented. Teenager will only be allowed in if accompanied by an adult.”
In relation to Twitter users who have suggested the funfair be banned, Joey said: “The fair has been operating on Blackheath Common for almost 300 years, bringing joy and laughter to thousands of customers, so I think people should look at what we actually bring to the area. Plus it needs noting the anti-social behaviour started in Greenwich park not on the funfair.”
Pictured top: Police and crowds on Blackheath on Tuesday evening Picture: Twitter/@juliazippos