LibLink: Chuka Umunna: London’s young people know how to stop the knife crime epidemic – here’s what they told me

Chuka Umunna used his Independent column to talk about knife crime. He described how he visited at least one school in his constituency every week and discussed the issue with young people.

They identify a huge variety of things that need to happen in order to tackle a problem that is ruining so many lives:

Unsurprisingly, one of the boys told me his mum wanted his family to move as they did not feel safe on his estate – many parents come to my constituency surgery asking for help to do just that. Another described how he had found drugs and what he thought were bullets in the field where he and his mates play football. A little girl told me how she fears for the welfare of her teenage half-brother.

These children have had to witness things no one should have to see as an adult, never mind as a young person. Their understanding of why it is happening and what should be done about the violence is sophisticated and well thought through. They told me that they supported stop and search and believed it certainly helped reduce the numbers carrying knives but that it was important the power was used appropriately and sensitively by the police and not used to discriminate. They wanted to see tougher sanctions for possession and for those who stab others, with far more police on our streets to enforce our laws, but did not believe that would solve the issue.

There is no excuse for inflicting extreme harm on another but the context in which it occurs is all too familiar. Some of the violence is carried out by young people from dysfunctional, often chaotic families with a history of domestic violence and substance misuse in the background. But, often, a lot of young people who get wrapped up in these things come from quite stable families. We have to ensure that there are more meaningful things for our young people to do outside school hours – we need decent, proper activities that will expand our young people’s horizons and give them things they will enjoy doing in their local areas, which years of austerity have seen cut.

Chuka emphasised the link between poverty and knife crime and his own commitment to ensuring national action to end the violence.

You can read his whole article here (£).

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  • nigel hunter 5th Jul '19 - 10:29am

    Yes the young get bored easily. They are developing their brains and are full of hormones changing them as adolescence takes over. Restless minds need channelling into activities, myriads of activities from football ,boxing all kinds of sports to chess,. learning new things to develop active minds for the future. Cutting youth clubs IS A DISASTER but always .one of the 1st to go.The Open University could be expanded into teens at
    school to introduce minds to learning about space tech ,a whole host of things, to get inquisitive minds redirected into useful things. Layla Moran (and others) take note.

  • nigel hunter 5th Jul '19 - 10:32am

    Being an ex youth worker I know of the wasted talent amongst the young who think ,what the hell nobodies interested in me I might as well make a name for myself by doing something bad,counterproductive, but it is done.

  • nigel hunter 5th Jul '19 - 10:38am

    Youngster love ‘fiddling about with things’ building, constructing scooters, , etc cars , orienteering courses to build character cammerarderie (know I have spelt it wrong!). Young minds are active curious willing to learn. This energy should be used to good perpose. End of rant.

  • nigel hunter 5th Jul '19 - 11:12am

    Involving Youth in productive things can not only be done on a community level but by organising activities on a street by street level to build up community support .

  • marcstevens 5th Jul '19 - 11:29am

    I think getting rid of the Connexions Service was a huge mistake. Wasn’t that sanctioned by Clegg and the OBs? The Connexions Advisers got to know many of these disaffected young people personally and built up good relationships with them and were able to support them on a whole range of issues from housing to careers and other activities. Now there is a not a uniform system of youth clubs or youth provision. Cuts to these services and underfunding them as well as to Safer Neighbourhood Policing have led to an increase in violent crime such as knife crime and all the drug gangs we keep hearing about. It would be good if Chuka can take a lead in this policy area and with some ideas for improving provision of these services.

  • Peter Hirst 7th Jul '19 - 7:23pm

    We also need to tackle the underlying causes in that individual such as peer pressure, insecurity and poor role models by building a resilience and positive outlook in our young people.

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