THE murder of a young man in an Oxford Street store is grim enough.

But the discovery of up to eleven weapons among the youths involved in the fatal stabbing of teenager Seydou Diarrassouba gives chilling testimony to the stark reality that weapon-carrying is routine among Britain’s big city gang members.

Allegedly the victim was stabbed to death over a pair of trainers – modern- day status symbols that some young people seem to regard much more highly than respect for the rule of law.

The story takes us back to the summer riots in London and elsewhere, when it emerged that rather than protesting for social reasons most of the criminals involved just wanted to steal what they could.

When you combine such a ruthless attitude to acquiring what these young people want with their readiness to use weapons to achieve their aims you have a tinder box waiting to explode.

It is time the gangs in all our major cities were hunted down and smashed. We realise that the police have to tread carefully because of the fear of being labelled racist, but they should seek out the gang members wherever and whoever they are. And new laws, imposing large penalties on those who carry weapons, must be implemented soon and judges must impose stiffer punishments.

At present gang membership is seen as both a status symbol and protection for some young men in inner cities. They provide an identity, albeit a somewhat dubious one. This culture must end.

For some years now both gang members and innocent people have died as a result of knifings and shootings.

Gang membership should be outlawed, and all of the agencies need to work together to re-route young men to something more positive before they are enlisted into these modern day urban guerrilla operations.