Our vision is to create a network of Pakistanis united in Christ, focused on better quality of life, fellowship and religious freedom for Christians in Pakistan and the UK.
A few of the weary attendents joined a photshoot at the end of the meeting at 11pm.
On Saturday 6th April at a knife crime summit organised by Hannah Chowdhry an Essex Youth Councillor and member of Redbridge Youth Council following growing concerns about national treen knife crime and several incidents within local boroughs. Sgt Simmonds from Goodmayes Ward Safer Neighbourhood Team brought three colleagues with him to engage with visitors and share some of their work to tackle gang related crime and other violent crime. At the meeting PC Gakhal launched a new video directed and produced by the local police cadet force, which will be used in the campaign to eradicate knife crime across the UK.
The meeting was presided over by Hannah Chowdhry, who introduced the first speaker PC Ross Richmond-Clarke who gave a presentation on the work of the police in tackling knife and violent crime. He said:
"Local services are working with us including local councils, local emergency services, the health services and community and charity groups, in a shared approach to prevent local youth falling into knife crime.
"Box up Crime gives opportunities to people involved in a gangs to join a free boxing class for catharsis and mentoring. This is being rolled out across the tri-boroughs and hopefully into schools soon.
"When tackling violent crime we needs to consider the impact on you, us and the nation as a whole."
During his presentation he expanded on gang culture and described 'County Lines' a term given to the single telephone number used to order drugs within areas across the country helping drug dealers expand their illicit businesses.
It is estimated that at least 46,000 children in England involved in gang activity, who move money and drugs around for the drug dealers.
Children aged 12- 17 are recruited using social media or around school gates. These children are often targeted due to vulnerability caused by poverty, neglect at home or mental health issues. These children are enticed into belonging into gangs and are given gifts such as phones, clothes, expensive trainers and money.
Children are often given drugs often concealed in their anuses and told to take them to another part of the country using buses or coaches. Often these children are robbed in transit under the direction of the gangs, which creates an indebtedness and forced to work for a fee to pay of their debt, which then traps the children into gangs. Children are never able to pay off the debt which accumulates due to imposed interest. With this lifestyle trapped children are then exposed to greater risks such as, drug addiction, violence, sexual assault, weapons, and other criminal activities
"Signs of entrapment in county lines is the most important bit for you:
He then listed the essential signs to look out for, which we list below:
Returning home late, staying out at night or going missing.
Being forced into areas far away from home without any ties to the area
Becoming secretive about who they are, where they are, or who they are with and what they are doing
Unexplained absences from school
Unexplained clothing, money or jewellery
An increase in destructive or aggressive behaviour
Use of sexual or violent terminology rife amongst gangs that they were not exposed to before.
Use of cabs, high usage of phones, having hotel cards despite any recourse to funds.
Becoming angry when mobile phones are taken away from them.
PC Clarke shared further details of the support provided, he said:
"Police will refer young people to a collaborative "Rescue and Response" programme for those who are in county lines gangs or have been involved in a episode with a county lines gangs, or exposure to people involved in county lines gangs." This is a one to one service that provides safeguarding of young people, helps council and mentor families and rehabilitates young people.
He then explained how the community can help and we list the advice below:
Call crimestoppers which is completely anonymous - the more intelligence the police have the more productive the police can be.
Peer suport needs to be improved especially between children in school
Residents can join weapons sweeps so locals understand better what the police are doing and can be actively involved in change.
Need to improve streetwatch mentality so that residenst engage with neighbours and can detect strange activity, ensuring vulnerable people are supported by local people. Watch him speak (here) or in the embed below:
PC Sandeep Gakhal who was once a police cadet himself, then explained how he had helped produce a anti-knife crime video with local police cadets. The video project was cadet-led after a young victim was killed two or three years ago who was friends with many cadets, some of whom had spoken with him the night before his death. The cadets wanted to do something to eradicate knife crime especially beginning a conversation around the subject. Initially an idea around a series of presentations at schools was chosen, however due to the difficult logistics arouhd bringing together the cadets, first responders, victim families and emergency services officers it was decided to make a video.
The video was played at the meeting as was greatly appreciated by those in attendance. Members of the public responded to the Police request to obtain permissions for the video to be shown at local schools and asked for the video to be presented by the local cadets - where possible- so that young people could relate to the contents.
Hannah Chowdhry BCyA, then shared an appeal she had recently made to Prime Minister Theresa May and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, she said:
"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.’
"My parents and I were worried about my safety travelling to and from school, especially after a further teenager was stabbed from my school only a year later (click here) - it took until this year for my parents to allow me to travel to school alone.
"Mr Kutyauripo's murder is said to be in retaliation for a gang-related post he published on instagram threatening murder to eventual killer Aaron Gaiete, who now states that he decided to act first. However, I am very cognisant of other murders that have occurred for purely personal vendettas. It should be noted that knife crimes are usually by their nature very personal crimes."
You can read the entirety of her speech (here)
A video of her presentation can be watched by clicking (here) or the the embed below:
David Anglin from a community group named 'For The Youth' (4TY) then shared details of his work. 4TY is an organisation that works with disadvantaged youth, through the medium of media and music. Their primary aim of their work is to inspire and create opportunities for these young people. Mr Anglin brought Daniel a young man who has gone through the youth crime and prison system and has managed to turn his life around. Daniel shared his thoughts on knife crime triggers that lead to a person getting involved in it. Daniel and David shared their thoughts on what can be done to stop knife crime.
Mr Anglin, said:
"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 person's offending by working with their parents. I've personally seen how, when done well, this can bring great help to a family in trouble."
Mr Anglin spoke of the need to decriminaloize petty crime and the need to help young people escape the justuce system which excerbates the situation by placing younger victims in touch with older more hardened criminals.
You can read the full contents of his presentation at the bottom of the blog post (here)
Bhupinder Iffat Rizvi, mother of Samina who was brutally shot dead in 2003 then shared a powerful testimony on her work and her decades long campaign to bring justice. She also spoke of the need to decriminalize children who are involved in crime and to use better monitored and more robust tagging equipment to help young criminals rehabilitate outside of jail.
At the end of the meeting a Q&A session was held that went on for over two hours and the meeting was extended from 9pm to 11pm. Senior officers from the local Employment Centre were present and have asked all the visitors to work with them on projects at their offices.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association and East Ilford Betterment Partnership, said:
"A report will be compiled that extrapolates all pertinent facts from the meeting especially contributions made by guest speakers and visitors.
"We will share all the date with PM Theresa May, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Jas Athwal leader of Redbridge Council.
"Some very valuable contributions were made by local people to this big conversation and we intend to hold further events.
"We also intend to help local police get opportunities to share their video in Redbridge Schools so that we and other local people can really get behind this campaign and work towards the eradication of knife and violent crime together."