Police have arrested three people in connection with a double stabbing that has shocked the Burnt Oak community.

Two 16-year-old boys were attacked by a gang of men near basketball courts in Watling Park, shortly after 7pm yesterday evening.

The boys, believed to be local college students, scrambled out of the deserted family park and were picked up by paramedics in nearby residential roads.

One of the boys remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition while the other was discharged from hospital last night following treatment.

Police say they are working with local schools and youth groups to establish the background to the incident.

The violent attack, in which one of the boy’s property is believed to have been taken, has shocked regular users of the park who say the area is not a known trouble spot.

Deana Pannet, 21, has lived in the area for five years. She said: “It is disgusting. I’m in here every day and it is quite scary when you hear about something this.

“There’s not much trouble in the park – you get the odd drinkers at night but nothing like this. It is a family park. Everyone comes here and there is a friendly atmosphere so I’m sure it has shaken a few people.”

Paramedics picked up the stab victims in nearby Horsecroft Road and Abbots Road before police were called to the scene.

The police helicopter was scrambled to look for the group last night and dog units carried out extensive searches of the park today.

Darwin Bernardo is a founder of youth group NUTMEG, which works with the police to tackle violent crime among young people in Edgware and surrounding areas.

He said: “There can naturally be repercussions to these sorts of incidents so we’re working with the police to establish what happened so we can put things in place to make sure we try and prevent any retaliation.”

The organisation has dealt with stabbings in Burnt Oak in the past but Darwin believes the issue is not as prevalent as it was.

He added: “I don’t think knife crime is as big in the area as it was in 2007/8. There was a lot of work done to deter young people away from feeling they have to carry offensive weapons to protect themselves. These sort of attacks spring up every now and again but we have the infrastructure to deal with them.”

Investigating officers are carrying out door-to-door enquiries to establish the movements of the boys leading up to the attack.

Detective Superintendent Mark Strugnell said: “This is a nasty, brutal offence where two boys were stabbed, one of which was left in a very serious critical condition and nearly died.

“Their lives may have been ruined as a consequence of their ordeal. We are still identifying the full circumstances of what happened and are appealing to anyone who may have seen a group of men in the park at the time of the incident.”

Anyone with information can call police on 0208 733 4053 or Crimestoppers on 0500 555 111.