Knife Crime Summit 2016
On Thursday 13 October the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, held the Knife Crime Summit to help inform a new approach to tackling knife crime.
The summit was co-chaired by the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden and 22 year-old Reiss Hall who is an active participant in community life and youth engagement. The summit focused on prevention and capturing the ‘youth voice’ but also covered the following areas:
- the impact of knife crime on families
- young Londoner's perspective
- the education perspective
- the medical perspective
- the community perspective
- sentencing and the role of prisons to ensure tougher sentences really work
- tackling the supply of knives online and on our high street
In attendance were young adults, victims, experts, services, schools, and community groups, brought together to discuss how we tackle this problem and keep young Londoners safe. They heard from a range of expert speakers and took part in a series of discussions and interactive votes, allowing them to give their views, question speakers and network with others working to protect children and young people from violence and harm.
The day began with powerful testimony about the damage done by knife crime in London. Starting the day's programme, Yvonne Lawson described the devastating impact losing her son Godwin to knife crime in 2010 had on her and her family. In her son's memory she set up the Godwin Lawson Foundation (GLF) which provides leisure time activites, keeping young people away from the streets and prevent them from joining gangs. She told the Summit that there are no quick fixes, and that greater early intervention provision would be key to long-term reductions in knife crime.
Following Yvonne, the Summit heard from Youth Chair Reiss Hall - who grew up in London and has witnessed knife crime at first hand. Sharing video clips of young Londoners speaking about their views and experiences of knife crime, he spoke about the experiences of young people growing up in London, the reasons why some choose to carry knives, and how knife crime differs from Borough to Borough.
Mayor Sadiq Khan then took the stage to address the delegates, setting out his commitment to a new, partnership approach that brings together prevention, intervention and enforcement.
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.”
The message of the importance of prevention continued from Dr. Susan Tranter, a headteacher at Edmonton County School, who lost a 15 year old pupil to knife crime in 2011. She has taken a prominent role in preventing youth violence and shared her knowledge of how educators can work with the police and others to keep children safe at school and in the local community. She stressed the need for a collective response - everyone who lives and works in London has a role to help make our great city the best place to grow and thrive.
Next on the stage was Surgeon Professor Roger Kneebone from Imperial College. Professor Kneebone - an internationally renowed expert in surgical simulation - uses his expertise to educate young people about the hard realities of knife crime. He gave his stark and powerful presentation on the medical impact of a stabbing, describing the effects on the human body and the potential long term medical implications for the victim.
The Summit then heard from community leader and youth worker Reverend Gavin Jacobs, who spoke of the harm done to communities by knife crime. Reverend Jacobs grew up in a community that was economically deprived, racially divided and damaged by gangs and drugs. He has since dedicated his life to helping young people growing up in similar situations to turn away from crime and look to a more positive future.
Metropolitan Police Commisssioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, spoke of the work of the police in making sure that the law is enforced against those who carry and use knives:"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."
The Summit also heard about work ongoing to ensure that children and young people are not able to purchase knives and dangerous weapons. Geeta Subramaniam-Mooney, Head of Crime Reduction and Supporting People at London Borough of Lewisham, spoke of the successful work carried out in the Borough between the council, police and retailers to ensure that the laws around the sale of knives to young people are enforced effectively.
A key message from the day was the importance of intervention - being able to give those already involved in knife crime and violence a chance to leave that lifestyle behind and move forward with their lives. Emily Thomas, Governor of HMP Young Offenders Institute Isis in South London spoke, outlining the challenges of working with young people in custody who have been involved in violent crime, and the opportunities to intervene with them to provide them the skills, confidence and support they need to make a fresh start at the end of their sentences.
The Summit was a key milestone in the Mayor's work to tackle knife crime, and the learning from the day will help to inform the Mayor’s Knife Crime Strategy and the development of the Mayor's new Police and Crime Plan, which will be published in the coming months. We will move forward with the police, councils, health services, criminal justice agencies, young people, voluntary groups and communities in the years ahead, working together to protect young Londoners from the tragedy of knife crime.
How knife crime impacts the lives of Londoners