Saturday, 3 November 2012

Knife crime on the increase - local residents call for stronger efforts to curb the social malaise!

Yesterday a meeting was held at our community centre to discuss the growing concern that knife crime is increasing in our local area.  Residents were concerned about a stabbing on Connaught Road in September, virtually outside our community centre and an attack on Henley Road just a week ago.

Worse still, we received reports that just this morning at 3am a few hours after our meeting had concluded, a man was stabbed to death on Ley Street.

These incidents are creating great fear in our community and this was expressed in the voices of the local people in attendance.  Many believed that the frequency of incidents was due to an increase in local gang culture, though Police deny this.

We were joined by Danny O'Brien of Anti knife-UK who explained how many young people are drawn into knife crime, via grooming, he felt that many of the perpetrators have had isolated lives and crave attention and role models, when often familial relationships have broken down.  He felt one way to tackle such crime would be parenting classes and other engagement with families.

Internet social websites are a tool for this grooming and Danny O'Brien encouraged parents to be more diligent in ascertaining the type of contacts their children make on social media and to reduce access, spending more time with children in wholesome activities and discussions that strengthen family bonds.

Local residents suggested the following solutions to tackle knife crime:

  • Stiffer penalties for carrying knifes or using them.
  • More youth inclusion and engagement activities locally
  • Greater emphasis on learning for young people either academic or vocational to steer them away from crime through greater opportunities.
  • Activities in the community to build community cohesion i.e Street parties as during the Queens Jubilee celebrations many local people made new friends and contacts.  This made them feel safer and meant they could get help when needed.
  • More police patrols after school hours many children and young people where conglomerating around the corners along Gordon Road.  This was felt to be intimidating to some visitors.
  • Provision of crime prevention aids including panic alarms. genetic ID sprays and other paraphernalia that can reduce crime of this nature.
  • A knife drop box locally on the corner of Green Lane/Stanley Road, so that young people can dispose of knifes in amnesty.
Wilson Chowdhry described a project the EIBP is pursuing that would involve teenagers in supervised art programmes  leading to long-term public art work such as mosiacs and a spray art mural on our community centre walls.  The art project would encourage designs focused on the themes of peace, hope and unity.  To inspire creative peace designs, speakers from a  variety of;  faiths, knife crime groups and local police, would describe the need for unity, the futility of knife crime and would share images that meant peace to them.  Danny O'Brien felt that hearing form Parvin Mahmood of what it felt like to lose her son at 15 years of age could create cathartic responses in young people directing them away from crime.

The group unanimously indicated support for it and Sania agreed to keep people informed of progress.

Wilson agreed to inform the local Clementswood and Mayfield ward Safer Neighbourhood Police Teams of the contents of our meeting.  He will also query potential rise in gang culture at the next Police Ward Advisory Panel for Clementwood for which he is a member.

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