Senior advisor and co-founder of Community Links, Kevin Jenkins tackles knife crime


- Credit: Archant

The tragic murder of an innocent stallholder at Queen’s Market is a frightening reminder for us all that there are still young people carrying knives who are prepared to use them on our streets.

This is despite of all the efforts made to increase awareness of the potential consequences of carrying a knife and to ­reduce the number being carried.

We must keep a perspective on the situation and recognise that, thankfully, there is still a minority of young people carrying knives and, I believe, an even smaller number who would absently use them in a pre-meditated act.

The vast majority of Newham young people are not involved in any form of crime or anti-social behaviour but one young person with a knife on the street in one too many for me.

If we are ever going to eradicate the fear of and reduce knife crime we need all key agencies to honestly review previous programmes and to work together on a real programme that needs to offer a balance between enforcement and prevention, delivered in unison.

The programmes need to be consistent and properly resourced and delivered through all the borough’s schools annually for the foreseeable future.

Enforcement needs to ­reflect the fact that a knife is potentially as lethal as a gun and if you have one it puts everyone at risk even if the holder has no intention of using it.

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Crucial must be the active support of parents ensuring that their sons, daughters are aware of the consequences and that they do not physically own or access a knife. Agencies need to support parents in doing this but parents also need to be honest and seek help where they cannot stop their son or daughter because the potential consequences are just too great and too tragic.

Working together we can eradicate the problem.

As we approach the mayoral election in May, perhaps one or more of the candidates will commit themselves to tackling and eradicating knife crime in Newham. I fear they won’t because the fear of failure is always the most important fear that a politician has however, if they take a chance they may be surprised by the support they receive for trying because this issue will not go away and it needs to be addressed before another tragedy.