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University of East London chief urges community action on youth violence at Stratford knife crime debate

PUBLISHED: 14:00 25 October 2018

Panel members at a knife crime summit in Stratford on Tuesday night. Pic: JON KING

Panel members at a knife crime summit in Stratford on Tuesday night. Pic: JON KING

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A university chief has called on communities to tackle knife crime before more lives are lost.

Criminologist Ian Joseph and Youth Justice Board member Dr Tony Sewewll. Pic: JON KINGCriminologist Ian Joseph and Youth Justice Board member Dr Tony Sewewll. Pic: JON KING

Geoff Thompson, chair of governors at the University of East London, made the rallying cry in front of a packed public meeting in UEL’s Stratford campus in Salway Place, Stratford, on Tuesday.

Mr Thompson said: “Black lives matter, young lives matter, all lives matter. Everybody can fix this.”

He added that youngsters at risk of being drawn into drug dealing needed alternatives before he called on the audience to help by coaching them.

The UEL chief was joined by five panellists including chairman of the Met’s civil rights group, Dr Angela Herbert, who argued it was too easy for schools to exclude difficult youngsters whose prospects then suffered.

Evening Standard investigations editor, David Cohen and Dr Angela Herbert, co-chair of the Violent Crime Prevention Board and chair of the Met's Civil Rights and Social Action group. Pic: JON KINGEvening Standard investigations editor, David Cohen and Dr Angela Herbert, co-chair of the Violent Crime Prevention Board and chair of the Met's Civil Rights and Social Action group. Pic: JON KING

Criminology lecturer, Dr Anthony Gunter, argued more media attention gave the impression there was a knife crime epidemic when there wasn’t.

“If you’re a young person, you are more likely to die of a road accident than you are from a blade,” he said.

To date 110 people have been killed on the capital’s streets this year.

Evening Standard investigations editor, David Cohen, argued that the perpetrators were often victims of crime themselves.

Dr Tony Sewell, who has worked with young offenders, said adults needed to stop making excuses for youngsters so they took more responsiblity for themselves.

He added the media should focus on positive young black role models with more resources directed towards supporting their success.

“We need a complete change in how we look at black boys,” he said.

Boris Johnson’s former policy adviser, Ian Joseph, said he felt flabbergasted that after millions of pounds had been spent a solution was no closer.

Audience member Martin Griffiths, a Royal London Hospital trauma surgeon, said: “We are at crisis point and it’s getting worse.”

He added that youngsters needed more support.

Another audience member said systemic racism needed to be addressed while another added that the people with solutions weren’t backed financially.

“We need to get away from the nonsense that this is a black problem. It’s everybody’s problem,” he added.

One woman asked why middle class people who buy illegal drugs weren’t targeted for driving a trade costing lives.

To find out more about how to help email chairman@uel.ac.uk

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