Sheffield Youth Parliament members ask why young people are carrying knives

Sheffield Youth Parliament members ask why young people are carrying knives

Sadie White No Comment

As part of an on-going consultation with young people, members of the Sheffield Youth Parliament, Khalil Richard, Jake Sutcliffe, Fozia Sultana and Shona Rooney visited three youth clubs in the city to kick of a consultation to find out more about why young people are carrying knives.

This comes in response to the spate of knife related anti-social behaviour seen across the city and nationwide. The Youth Parliament Members are campaigning for an end to knife crime.

Top reasons cited why young people feel they need to carry knives include self-defence, showing off, aggression towards others and reasons associated with being part of a criminal gang.

When asked about possible solutions to stop young people carrying knives themes such as a need for heightened multi-cultural police presence integrated within communities, tackling the sources of young people getting hold of knives, the role of education & skills in tackling the ‘no hope’ mentality, access to more safe spaces for young people getting them off the streets and public safety measures such as increased surveillance and street lighting were mooted.

Need for heightened multi-cultural police presence

Under this theme, making clear the consequences for carrying knives, culture change to raise confidence in reporting to the police, police presence at youth clubs, more police in schools and communities were discussed. It was felt important that the police in communities reflect the multi-cultural background and ethnicities of the communities being served and that officers were better integrated within communities including a role for plain clothed officers. Others felt strongly that the presence of youth workers or parents with a community focussed role would have more impact due to the negative relationship between the police and some communities.

Tackling the sources of young people getting hold of knives

A focus on licencing and the prevention of the selling of knives to underage people.

The role of education & skills in tackling the ‘no hope’ mentality

Getting to the root cause of the reasons why young people are drawn towards getting involved in gangs or anti-social behaviour that involves carrying knives was a key solution. The reasons why, being the prevailing ‘no hope’ culture, where young people feel there is no hope for their future and are therefore more vulnerable to being drawn into criminal gangs. Getting in front of at risk individuals with options and support for gaining education and skills through workshops in youth or community centres was discussed.

Access to safe spaces such as youth clubs

With funding for youth work being stripped back year on year as a result of austerity and its impact on local budgets, safe spaces and centres where young people can get off the streets and feel safe and supported to shape their futures are decreasing. More youth clubs and safe spaces were floated as essential to tackling the knife crime epidemic.

Increased public safety measures

Young people said they felt unsafe at night and that better lighting and surveillance in public areas could counter this. Also activities to counter the emergence of racism.

What next

South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, has been awarded over £500,000 of Home Office funding for a Sheffield partnership project led by Sheffield Futures focussed on tackling child criminal exploitation and associated knife and gun crime across the city.

The project named by young people consulted as ‘Project 0114’ will be delivered by Sheffield Futures in conjunction with delivery partners, Sheffield City Council, ACT Sheffield, The Unity Gym Project, St Marks Church, Broomhill, Manor Castle Development Trust, My Life Project, Princes Trust, and Change Grow Live (CGL).

Due to begin in January 2019, Project 0114 will include an education programme for all secondary school pupils across the city as well as year six pupils in primary schools in areas deemed to be most at risk. A second strand to the project will engage children aged 10-13 identified as at risk of grooming for gang involvement and serious violence with positive enrichment activities.

Gail Gibbons, CEO at Sheffield Futures comments, ‘We are really pleased to have been awarded the funding to deliver targeted activities to help children and young people vulnerable to criminal exploitation and associated serious violence across the city.’

‘Through Project 0114, we hope to equip our children and young people to be able to steer clear of the serious threat that comes from organised crime, child criminal exploitation and the associated violent crime we are unfortunately seeing become more and more frequent across the city.’


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