Prevention the word at Newham knife crime event
- Credit: Archant
People from the Red Cross, Royal London Hospital and anti-violent crime charities were there to show how knife crime and gang life can be avoided and how to handle it.
The Met’s gang unit Trident was also there the highlight the warning signs of gang activity.
All the voices at the event pointed to one fix: prevention. Increasing awareness and educating people.
“I genuinely believe that the majority of young people who carry a knife don’t intend to use it. They only think they’re going to have it there for their own protection,” said PC Peter Wilson.
He has worked with in Trident for the last four years; he’s been with the Met for the last 29. He worked in Eastlea School in Canning Town before moving to the gang unit.
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“Unfortunately, the reality of it is if you’re carrying a knife there are only two alternatives: you either stab somebody or they take it off you and stab you.
“It’s about trying to educate young people that carrying a knife increases you risk of getting stabbed significantly, instead of reducing it.”
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The founder of the anti-gang charity Space, who cannot be named for safety reasons, said it’s about knowing the signs.
“There are no easy answers. It’s really important to be aware of the indicators so you can start doing something early-on, before the child is embedded and entrenched beyond the level that you can get them out.
“Once they’re in, it’s almost too late to start doing anything.
But it’s difficult.
“A lot of the indicators are very similar to normal teenage, hormonal behaviour, the anger issues, the slamming doors,” they said.
Legislation against gangs also has its blind spots. Children can be served a Child Abduction Warning Notice to keep the adults grooming them into gangs away.
The order only lasts until the child reaches 16, though, an oversight the Space founder is trying to fix, among other problems with the system.
“They’re being styled as having made a lifestyle choice towards criminality and the parents are saying, ‘No he wasn’t like this something happened to him. He’s being brainwashed by outsiders,’” they said.
East Ham MP Stephen Timms, despite the situation in Westminster, managed to see what the New VIc students put on.
He said: “Sixth formers often feel unsafe in Newham.
“No punches were pulled. There were lots of hard hitting messages, designed to keep students safe.”
That atmosphere created by knife violence is less obvious than the wounds and deaths, but still has its effect.
Nicoletta Cozmirca is 17 and lives in Beckton: “All of us are affected, because we’re scared to be outside or we create stereotypes about people because of the news.”
She wants people to interact with each other in London and carry on with their lives.
“If you don’t go outside then the gangs win,” she said.
As the senior trauma nurse in Royal London Hospital, Michael Carver was showing some of the equipment that is used to save the lives of victims of knife crime.
The hospital works with the St Giles trust to help those suffering from the epidemic away from violence.
What is important is helping fix their lives as well as their bodies. The hospital won’t discharge someone until the trust says that they aren’t at going to a situation were they’ll probably get stabbed again.
Sanjeeva Camillus, a trauma support worker for the St Giles Trust, recently helped a young person out of an area that was dangerous for him.
Setting him up with a house and trying to get work experience for him is part of the program.
For students, the trauma nurse had this advice on how they can help: “Think about those people around that are younger than them and more impressionable.
“Be a good role model and a good friend to people, because anyone who’s struggling in life is looking for support from somewhere and the important this is that support comes from the right place.
“I’m sure you know people that get picked on, that are new to the college that maybe don’t speak English as a first language. Just go and say hello. Be their friend and look out for them.”