Mayor of London calls in expertise and experience to help tackle knife crime

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will today (Thursday 13th October) hold a special summit to help inform a tough new approach to tackling knife crime.

Today’s event, in Euston, will bring together around 150 Londoners including young adults, victims, community leaders, experts and professionals from schools, hospitals, the police and criminal justice partners who have expertise and experience of knife crime, to help pave the way for a more collaborative and effective strategy for keeping young Londoners safe.‎

Knife crime accounts for almost half of all fatal homicides in the capital* and has risen 16 per cent in the last two years, with 13 young people under the age of 25 killed this year. Sadiq Khan is determined to crack down on this deadly problem, and today’s event will explore what can be done differently, what needs to change, and what more can be done to prevent young people from carrying knives.

Sadiq Khan said: “Every death on the streets of London is an utter tragedy, and I am deeply concerned about the rise in knife crime over recent years.

“It is time for a new approach. We must send a strong message that carrying a knife is completely unacceptable, and is more likely to ruin your life than to save it.

“I hope that today’s summit will help us to harness the knowledge and insights of all those who have experience of knife crime, so we can help rid our communities of this terrible violence.”

Co-chairing the event alongside the Deputy Mayor for Policing Sophie Linden will be 22-year-old Reiss Hall from Battersea, who has witnessed knife crime at first hand. Yvonne Lawson, who lost her 17-year-old son Godwin to a knife attack in 2010, and Headteacher Dr Susan Tranter who lost a pupil at her Edmonton school, both now work in knife crime prevention and will address the summit to share their experiences.

Also speaking will be Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Islington community leader Reverend Gavin Jacobs, surgeon Professor Roger Kneebone, and Emily Thomas, Governor of HMP Young Offenders Institute Isis in South London, which holds sentenced young adults and category C offenders who are aged 18-30.

Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said: “It is clear we need to do more to get over the message that it is wrong to carry a knife. We will continue to pursue those who carry and use them to hurt people.  If you know of someone who carries knives – tell someone, the police, a teacher, a faith leader or your family. Let’s take action together.”

Yvonne Lawson said: “As a mother who has lost a child to this knife crime epidemic, I know there are no quick fixes. What we need is a consistent approach of everybody working together like a jigsaw puzzle. We can’t all do everything but everyone can do something. I am hoping we can conclude that one of the ways forward will be early intervention provision.”

Reiss Hall, Co-chair of the Summit said: “Young people committing violent acts involving knives aren’t fully aware of the consequences; in particular the psychological damage they can cause to the family of a victim. I was fortunate enough that my mother found the means for us to move to an area where the chances of me becoming involved in situations where knives would be used was hugely decreased. I am very aware however, this is not an option many are fortunate enough to have and for that reason, I feel a moral obligation to do what I can to help young people follow the right path and stay safe.”

Dr Susan Tranter said: “It is impossible to overstate the tragedy that is knife crime. At best it provokes fear and at worst lives are lost, families bereaved, young lives are scourged by prison and communities bear the economic and social cost of it all.  This is not a BAME issue, not a deprivation issue- everyone who lives and works in London has a role to help make our great city the best place to grow and thrive.  I am delighted that this conference starts with the voice of young people and brings together the leaders of our communities in a common purpose. Our drive to eradicate knife crime has to be unrelenting, imaginative, creative and collaborative. I hope to learn from others how I can contribute to the Mayor’s aim to rid communities of this terrible violence.”

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime funds £6.8m for services to help address knife crime in the capital every year, including the Redthread Youth Violence Intervention Programme in all four of London’s major trauma centres to help vulnerable young victims move away from the lifestyle that led them into the path of danger and violence.

The Mayor’s Knife Crime Strategy will form part of his new Police and Crime Plan which is expected to be launched for public consultation later this year.

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