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Teens want a say on knife crime too!

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Hannah Chowdhry speaking at Redbridge Peace pole.


We urge adults and teenagers in the UK to sign our petition calling for stronger knife-crime reforms (click here)

Support Hannah Chowdhry's teen non-alcoholic bar project by donating (here). We know projects like this work as we have had success before: (click here), (here) and (here)

Over 30 teenagers we polled on their concerns about knife crime and information form that was shared in a letter to the Government by teen community champion Hannah Chowdhry.  All of those polled have suggested that teenagers are ignored when it comes to matters about knife-crime pertaining to them.

To provide an opportunity for teenagers to have their say, the British Pakistani Christian Association, is teaming up with Ilford High Road Baptist Church and the East ilford Betterment Partnership to hold a knife crime meeting on Saturday 30th March.  Adults are welcome too!

Event name:       Teens want a say on knife crime too!
Date:                   Saturday 6th April 2019
Time:                   19:00 - 21:00
Location:             Ilford High Road Baptist Church, 322 High Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1QP
Presided by:       The meeting will be presided over by Hannah Chowdhry, Essex Youth Councillor and Redbridge Youth Councillor
                             Mother of slain teenager Kashif Mahmood, Parvin Mahmood will be our chief guest. Also in attendance will be a senior officer from the Met Police East Area Command, an NGO's will including E-gangs and Antiknife UK.

London has become a hotspot for violent crime and the number of knife and gun victims is too numerous to mention in this post.

At a time when nearly every story in our local newspapers is about gun and knife crime, BPCA wanted to be part of the progress towards change and through our volunteer Hannah Chowdhry, we have the best platform that will ensure that teenagers are also part of this essential debate.

Hannah Chowdhry, recently wrote a letter to Sadiq Khan Mayor of London and Prime Minister Theresa May, after polling over 30 youths on knife crime. She is calling for a common-sense approach that takes on board the desires of teenagers. You can read more (here).

Some of examples of increasing violence are extracted below.

The Ilford Recorder warns of the dangers of excluding children from schools (click here).
 
A minibus driver was assaulted by knife-weilding passenger yesterday (click here).
 
An Ilford teenage gang-member is accused of murder of teen in Northolt (click here).

Hannah Chowdhry, said:

"My name is Hannah Chowdhry, I am 15 years old and I am a young Essex Youth Councillor who is volunteering for the British Pakistani Christian
Association(BPCA).

"In the wake of a further two teenagers killed on Friday and Saturday (click here), I am pleading to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, and Essex Council Leader, David Finch, to take swift and bold action against knife crime.




"As a passionate, anti-knife crime advocate, I am extremely concerned about the rising level of violent crime we are seeing on the streets of London and Essex.

"I attend school in the London Borough of Redbridge and in my first year our whole school was mortified when we heard of the murder of Charlie Kutyauripo at the tender age of 15. It is unimaginably shocking to me to think that Charlie was the same age as me and had his whole life ahead of him (click here).

"I vividly remember the day that I heard of this tragic news. It was at our school assembly when I was just 11 years old. His horrifying unnatural death induced significant fear within the impressionable minds of pupils and we wondered whether we too could fall victim to such atrocities. We had, after all, just moved to ‘big school.’

".....In my desire to seek answers, I polled over 30 teenagers in my constituency and in Redbridge and they unanimously suggested that government funding for additional police would help ameliorate violent crime.

"Young teenagers all feel more visible policing, especially through boots on the ground, would restore confidence and curtail the bravado of those carrying knives.

"From my research most innocent teenagers would have no qualms with stop and search operations by police authorities. Thus, in response to the adults who have raised concerns that such stop, search and seizure operations would constitute an invasion of privacy, I and many of my peers assure you that we would most certainly rather be safe and hampered for a few moments than dead.

"Concerns have been raised about the presence of local services and activities available to teenagers and my father harps on about a bygone age when most young people would have attended youth clubs, often held by churches but such facilities are now few and far between.

"Providing positive outlets for teenagers to interact may curtail violence as there may be a casual nexus between knife crime and boredom, loneliness and social fragmentation." 

Wilson Chowdhry, said:

"Knife and Gun crime is reaching epic proportions and it is essential that we continue to work as a community in eradiacting this devastating social malaise.

"With that in mind I urge concerned residents of the borough and those who work here to join us to discuss a way forward and who we can be part of that necessary holistic change."

One of the guest speakers at our event is Youth Offender Specialist, David Anglin, who wrote a comment for us:

When it comes to the knife crime debate I've heard many points of view some saying anyone caught with a knife should get an automatic prison sentence some saying it needs more funding for projects like youth centers.

I have worked with young offenders for 10 years now and I believe this a problem that was slowly building from the first austerity measures, but like most things in a system it takes a while to build up momentum, but when the momentum gains we get the crisis that we have now. I believe the riots of 2011 were a warning about what could happen, I believe we took notes but failed to truly take heed.

To understand this you only need to go to pre-2009, don't get me wrong there were issues but not like what we are facing now, I believe this to be because there were a lot more support services, for instance, you had an abundance of youth centres, SureStart centres to name some of the more public-facing organisations. Furthermore, during this time for young people who were getting into trouble there was a whole host of services not just for them but their parents too, to help them cope. For instance, some young people who were put on court orders were also put on parenting orders so that a family help planner would help tackle the young persons offending by working with their parents. I've personally seen how, when done well, this can bring great help to a family in trouble.

Another issue to look at and probably one of the most important ones is in schools, as since the austerity measures again many of the schools are underfunded for the work they need to do. So whereas a young person who is showing signs of issues in a school may have had access to a specialist one to one mentor, or classroom assistant, these young people who aren't coping with the school system, are often kicked out of schools. Sometimes meaning that that's the last access to an education they have thus their days that used to be full at school, are idle which creates room for mischief borne out of boredom. Alternatively, the young person who is kicked out will be placed in a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), the concept of PRU's are good but again its the issue of this young person being put into a place of other young people involved in crime. So whereas in school they may have had access to positive friendship groups in a PRU this access to positive peers becomes limited.

For me and in my point of view I don't think there is a quick fix answer to this question, but I believe the answer starts at home and at schools, the place where many of these young people will initially spend much of their time. So for parents who see signs of bad behaviour, or are struggling due to having to work numerous different jobs, having access to specialists who can help them with parenting or having pro after school clubs for these young people to go to which incorporates their interests would be productive. I've run studio sessions with young people for a very long time and see how just this simple thing of having a positive space for them keeps them focused and greatly reduces their criminal behaviour. With schools, I again believe that instead of just kicking out these young people, that specialist workers in mentoring and self-belief should be a part of school lessons to give support to any young person who's facing issues.

Lastly I'll add something to the people who say to lock up these kids and throw away the keys, the problem with this is that if this young person isn't rehabilitated inside, where usually they're not as they're having to survive in a very macho environment, these young people who will be released at some point will usually only end up reoffending again. Hence, it becomes a never-ending cycle, if they have children, then statistically, these children end up following in their footsteps. I believe the key lies in not just locking them up, but again giving in-depth mentoring that focuses on the root causes of their offending behavior and showing them actual options! (Keywords actually options, so things like actual apprenticeships not access to apprenticeship courses).

It will be a long slow method but I believe this will go somewhere in helping to stem the tide of knife violence.


Wilson Chowdhry speaking at Redbridge Peace pole during Redbridge Faith Forum walk. 

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