News

Lived experience should be at the core of any knife crime strategy

Kim Peltier, Fundraising Officer
Wednesday 26th July 2017
London Knife Crime Strategy was released in response to a three decade rise in knife crime with injury across the country, and an 11% rise in knife crime in London. In the strategy’s opening the Mayor rightly recognises the potential of all young people regardless of their circumstances and the need to give young people skills, resources and confidence to get out of knife crime." data-share-imageurl="https://leapconfrontingconflict.org.uk/sites/default/files/field/image/LEAP--39.jpg">

In June 2017 a new London Knife Crime Strategy was released in response to a three decade rise in knife crime with injury across the country, and an 11% rise in knife crime in London. In the strategy’s opening the Mayor rightly recognises the potential of all young people regardless of their circumstances and the need to give young people skills, resources and confidence to get out of knife crime.

The report outlines the scale of knife crime in London today:

  • In 2016 London (excluding the City) accounted for around three in ten recorded knife offences nationally
  • In the 12 months to March 2017, over 12,000 knife crime offences were recorded in London
  • 75% of knife crime victims are male and frequently aged less than 25 years of age

Leap has over 30 years’ experience of supporting young people who face significant conflict, from violence in the community to young people who are in prisons or youth offending institutions. We have over a decade’s knowledge of knife crime, in 2007 we launched a dedicated curriculum to train young people to become peer educators about the causes and consequences of using knives.

In June, Leap was invited to attend a roundtable discussion on knife crime led by The Voice Magazine with Cressida Dick, the London Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

During the roundtable Cressida made clear her belief that halting the rise in knife crime would require more than policing, it would require adequate education, preventative actions and protective measures such as knife detectors; used in tandem with policing for maximum effectiveness. She said that when policing is used, it should be led by intelligence and be accountable for its actions.

Leap attended the roundtable with a programme graduate, who participated in the discussion and shared their perspective, which was informed by their lived experiences and those of their peers. We have summarised some of the points they and the other young people raised:

  • There is distrust towards the police with a feeling that they aren’t members of the community. Young people feel there is a different approach taken by senior police officers and those ‘on the beat’ who aren’t polite or approachable.
  • Perceptions of police attitudes towards young people can be a barrier to reporting crime, they explained that if a young black person was injured in a knife attack they wouldn’t report it to the police because they would fear being treated like a suspect rather than a victim.
  • Participants were keen to highlight that responsibility for rising knife crime should not be attributed to families who are frequently low income and may be facing multiple challenges. Therefore implementing a knife crime strategy should not rely heavily on the family unit which may already lack resources or time.
  • They felt that although there is strong messaging around the dangers of carrying knives, these messages are failing to reach young people on the ground who need to hear it most.
  • Cuts to local services have left young people with less to do, one young person used the example of their local football pitch which they could previously access for free that now charges.
  • Most of the young people at the discussion had experiences of stop and search, many multiple times. They had different feelings about stop and search informed by how it was carried out. A common experience the young people had was the police stopping them because a ‘group of black lads was seen acting suspiciously’.

We understand the importance of speaking to young people about their lived experiences and we welcomed this approach by Cressida Dick.

At Leap we work hard to be meaningfully led by young people. For example, consultation with young people and our graduates informs the development of our programmes, enriching our work and ensuring it remains relevant. We have three young trustees who have been through our programmes. Their insights and experiences heavily influenced the development of our strategy to make sure we keep young people at the heart of our work. Some young people graduating from our programmes can also become young trainers, and through this they become leaders and role models for their generation.

If there was one thing we could ask of Sadiq Khan, of Cressida Dick, of all those involved in tackling knife crime it would be to listen to young people. Hear their experiences, their doubts and their hopes. Involve them in developing new work, trust them, and use their brilliant minds to develop meaningful initiatives that leave young people safe from knives, feeling empowered and feeling part of our wonderfully diverse society.

More news & blogs

Press Release
Blog

Young people design Leap curriculum as part of #CareLeaversWeek

By Jake Lake, Policy & Research Assistant
Wednesday 24th October 2018
Blog

Listening as a tool for reducing violence

By Abigail Darton
Friday 28th September 2018
Blog

A public health approach to tackling serious violence

By Rosie Horton, Senior Communications Officer
Thursday 23rd August 2018
News

Lighting the Fire 2018 - meet the winners

By Gaby Hasham, Communications and Events Assistant
Friday 25th May 2018

Sign up for our latest news