Youths demand action on knife crime epidemic

9 Aug 19

An epidemic of stabbings rocking Britain’s cities can be tackled only by addressing key problems faced by young people such as lack of housing and unemployment.

Wider action against the social causes of violent crime forms one of 12 recommendations by young people to make the streets safer delivered in a letter to the government.

Youths directly affected by knife crime visited 10 Downing Street yesterday to demand that the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, listens to their views on how to tackle the crisis.

“Caught up in the knife crime epidemic, these young people are demanding action so their lives are no longer blighted by violence,” said Javed Khan, chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s.

“They are right to say that there is not one single solution to stopping the stabbings on our streets. 

“As leaders in government, parliament and charities, we must come together to help them by addressing the poverty of hope felt by many children and young people across the country, who see little or no chance of a positive future.  

“This starts with the new PM listening to their concerns and agreeing to meet them.”

Young people have worked with the cross-party All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime to compile a pioneering insight into violence by those most at risk of being victims with the support of Barnardo’s and the youth work charity Redthread.

The APPG report, There is No Protection on the Streets, None included a recommendation by young people that the government needs to tackle underlying causes of violent crime in communities – such as lack of housing, youth services and employment opportunities.

It calls on the government to support those involved in, or at risk of being involved in county lines gang activity – and asks for more community police officers to help prevent crime.

The 12-point manifesto proposed by young people to make the streets safer also calls on ministers to tackle the underlying causes of violent crime such as a lack of housing and unemployment.

Last week a cross-party select committee of MPs called youth violence a “national emergency” and claimed the government’s response so far has been “completely inadequate”. 

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics in July revealed that knife crime in England and Wales hit a record high in 2018-19, up 8% on the previous year.

Sarah Jones MP, the chair of the APPG, said: “Our new prime minister must take responsibility for solving the epidemic of serious violence facing our country. He needs to be clear this will be both a national and personal priority. 

“Boris Johnson has suggested that knife crime can be solved simply by increasing stop and search, but the solutions proposed by young people today show he needs to think much bigger.

Jas Athwal, the executive member for crime and public protection of London Councils, said: “The capital faces an immense challenge in reducing knife crime and in ensuring all young Londoners feel safe. 

“Boroughs are determined to take a proactive role, but we can’t escape the fact that London local authorities have endured a 63% loss of core government funding since 2010. 

“The government needs to ensure councils have adequate resources for the frontline services that make such a difference in young people’s lives.”

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