Mayor calls in expertise and experience to help tackle knife crime

13 October 2016

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will today (Thursday 13th October) hold a special summit to help inform a tough new approach to tackling knife crime.

Today’s event, in Euston, will bring together around 150 Londoners including young adults, victims, community leaders, experts and professionals from schools, hospitals, the police and criminal justice partners who have expertise and experience of knife crime, to help pave the way for a more collaborative and effective strategy for keeping young Londoners safe.‎

Knife crime accounts for almost half of all fatal homicides in the capital* and has risen 16 per cent in the last two years, with 13 young people under the age of 25 killed this year. Sadiq Khan is determined to crack down on this deadly problem, and today’s event will explore what can be done differently, what needs to change, and what more can be done to prevent young people from carrying knives.

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.”

Co-chairing the event alongside the Deputy Mayor for Policing Sophie Linden will be 22-year-old Reiss Hall from Battersea, who has witnessed knife crime at first hand. Yvonne Lawson, who lost her 17-year-old son Godwin to a knife attack in 2010, and Headteacher Dr Susan Tranter who lost a pupil at her Edmonton school, both now work in knife crime prevention and will address the summit to share their experiences.

Also speaking will be Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Islington community leader Reverend Gavin Jacobs, surgeon Professor Roger Kneebone, and Emily Thomas, Governor of HMP Young Offenders Institute Isis in South London, which holds sentenced young adults and category C offenders who are aged 18-30.

Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said: "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."

Yvonne Lawson said: “As a mother who has lost a child to this knife crime epidemic, I know there are no quick fixes. What we need is a consistent approach of everybody working together like a jigsaw puzzle. We can’t all do everything but everyone can do something. I am hoping we can conclude that one of the ways forward will be early intervention provision.”

Reiss Hall, Co-chair of the Summit said: “Young people committing violent acts involving knives aren't fully aware of the consequences; in particular the psychological damage they can cause to the family of a victim. I was fortunate enough that my mother found the means for us to move to an area where the chances of me becoming involved in situations where knives would be used was hugely decreased. I am very aware however, this is not an option many are fortunate enough to have and for that reason, I feel a moral obligation to do what I can to help young people follow the right path and stay safe.”

Dr Susan Tranter said: “It is impossible to overstate the tragedy that is knife crime. At best it provokes fear and at worst lives are lost, families bereaved, young lives are scourged by prison and communities bear the economic and social cost of it all.  This is not a BAME issue, not a deprivation issue- everyone who lives and works in London has a role to help make our great city the best place to grow and thrive.  I am delighted that this conference starts with the voice of young people and brings together the leaders of our communities in a common purpose. Our drive to eradicate knife crime has to be unrelenting, imaginative, creative and collaborative. I hope to learn from others how I can contribute to the Mayor’s aim to rid communities of this terrible violence.”

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime funds £6.8m for services to help address knife crime in the capital every year, including the Redthread Youth Violence Intervention Programme in all four of London’s major trauma centres to help vulnerable young victims move away from the lifestyle that led them into the path of danger and violence.

The Mayor’s Knife Crime Strategy will form part of his new Police and Crime Plan which is expected to be launched for public consultation later this year. 

Notes to editors

* Of all victims of homicide in 2016 so far, 46% were due to fatal knife crime. Between September 2015 and August 2016 there were 3,877 victims of knife crime with injury in London. 1,749 of these were victims aged under the age of 25.

The Mayor’s Knife Crime Summit, at Friends House in Euston, brings together the experiences of young adults, families of victims, members of the public and the knowledge and expertise of professionals from schools, hospitals, youth projects, the criminal justice system, and the police with talks, group discussions and interactive votes on key issues. Contributors include:

Reiss Hall – Reiss will be co-chairing today’s event alongside Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden. Now 22-years-old and living in Sutton, Reiss grew up in London and has witnessed knife crime at first hand. An active participant in community life and youth engagement, in 2015, Reiss presented the Big Talk – a community event in Brixton where local young people had the chance to sit down with the MPS Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, and debate the safety issues that matter to them.

Yvonne Lawson – Yvonne lost her son Godwin to a knife attack in 2010. A promising footballer, Godwin was 17 years old when he died. Yvonne subsequently set up the Godwin Lawson Foundation (GLF) in memory of her son. The Godwin Lawson Foundation aims to raise awareness of the positive role that sport and education can have in challenging gang culture and the use of weapons as a status symbol. This foundation actively tries to tackle issues amongst young people that usually lead to knife and gun crimes.

Dr Susan Tranter – Dr Tranter is the Headteacher of Edmonton County School. She has had personal experience of the devastating impact of knife crime and youth violence – in 2011, a pupil of her school – 15 year old Negus Maclean – was stabbed to death by a gang as he tried to protect his younger brother. Dr Tranter has taken a prominent role in tackling youth crime, working with MOPAC in 2015 to host a Schools conference to bring the MPS and London educators together to build relationships and focus on the key issues in protecting young Londoners.

Professor Roger Kneebone – Professor Kneebone is Reader in Surgical Education (Surgery and Cancer) at Imperial College and runs the UK’s only Master’s course in Surgical Education. He started his career as a trauma surgeon, spending five years in southern Africa. On returning to the UK he worked as a GP in Wiltshire for 12 years before moving to Imperial in 2001. His research since the 90s has focused on highly realistic medical simulations. Professor Kneebone gives a stark and powerful presentation on the impact of a stabbing on the human body – using a simulated operating theatre to show the devastating and lasting consequences of knife injuries.

Emily Thomas – Emily is the Governor at HMP & YOI ISIS. Before taking over at ISIS, she was Governor at Holloway and Cookham Wood YOI. She led the Ministry of Justice's implementation team on "Transforming Rehabilitation".

Reverend Gavin Jacobs - Reverend Jacobs grew up in lived in Cape Town, South Africa. His community was economically deprived, racially divided and affected by gangs and drugs. His faith inspired him to work with gangs and prisons. Using his knowledge and experience, Gavin became a specialist in this area. He created the 1st Youth Champions Awards in London with the support of the Islington Borough Commander and Islington Youth Services. He facilitated anti-gun, anti-knife, and violent crime workshops in prisons, pupil referrals units, schools, colleges and universities. In addition, Gavin is experienced in conflict mediation and gang mediation and sits on advisory boards including the Critical Incident Response Advisory Group to Southwark Met Police.

Geeta Subramaniam - Geeta has overall responsibility for developing and implementing strategies on crime, drugs, anti-social behaviour, youth offending, commissioning drug and alcohol services and supporting people programme for the London Borough of Lewisham. Geeta also currently chairs the London Heads of Community Safety and is an executive board member of the Youth Justice AD Network. Geeta is qualified in Law (LLB Hons), holds an MA in Applied Criminal Justice & Criminology, a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Postgraduate Certificate in the Management of Public Sector Services, Postgraduate Diploma in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and OCN in Domestic Homicide Review Chair.