Croydon groups team up to raise awareness of knife crime in three-week programme

By - Friday 9th March, 2018

Town-centre events provide guidance and safety advice regarding knife crime

Sergeant Catherine Thomas speaks with student volunteers at an event to raise awareness of knife crime.
Photo author’s own.

Croydon Council’s youth engagement team teamed up with Croydon police, Victim Support, and other groups in a three-week programme to raise awareness of knife crime.

Participating groups hosted a range of town-centre events throughout the programme, which started during half term. The events ranged from opportunities to gain advice and guidance on services available to victims to opportunities to learn about safety. The program ran until Friday 2nd March.

According to Croydon College and Metropolitan Police, forty-six people aged twenty-five and under were killed as a result of knife crime in London in 2017. As part of the programme, on Thursday 22nd February, Croydon College and Metropolitan Police implemented temporary knife arches at the Whitgift and Centrale shopping centres. Sergeant Catherine Thomas of the Town Centre Police Team said that the knife arches were there to both show visibility of knife crime and to act as a deterrent to people carrying knives.

”If you’re not carrying a knife, you’re less likely to be injured by a knife”

Thomas said “I think the communities and the businesses are just, at this point in time, working together to try and reduce [knife crime]. I can see us implementing a number of knife arch operations throughout the year, so there will be more”.

Temporary knife arches were set up to raise awareness of knife crime.
Photo author’s own.

Thomas said that the main way that people can protect themselves against knife crime is by not carrying a knife, adding that although she hears people say that they carry knives for protection, commonly most people who suffer injuries of knife attacks do so as a result of their own knives.

“If you’re not carrying a knife, you’re less likely to be injured by a knife.” Thomas said that there are many services available to help those affected by knife crime, including Victim Support.

”It’s not just about being injured by the knife”

Thomas said those who are affected by knife crime spread out further than just the victims themselves. “It’s about the families being impacted of the persons that have been injured by the knife. I can’t put a number on it.”

Adreanna Krajewska, a student volunteer handing out fliers at the event, said that she thinks that it’s important to raise awareness of knife crime in Croydon because she thinks that people aren’t aware of the problems that knife crime can cause. “By showing the knife arch, and basically the police in the kind of environment that we are in right now, it’s important because we show that it’s nothing to be afraid of, but at the same time making sure that [people are aware that the problem] exists.”

Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice, said that she would like to see more programmes like this in the future, adding that all of the groups working together in the programme “play a visible role, rather than just reading about the next knife crime incident”.

“What often dominates the conversation about knife crime is the police”

Ali said “we know from feedback that not everybody, and this goes for residents as a whole, we might think that people know what’s available, but actually often they don’t, so I think it’s just another way to be able to reinforce that message, engage with more young people, speak to more young people to make sure they know what they can take advantage of”.

She said that it’s important to listen to young people in the conversation about knife crime, adding that what often dominates the conversation about knife crime is the police.

“The acute end of the problem, the 999 call, the weapon sweeps, the stop and search encounter. We think by talking to more young people, engaging with more young people, listening to what they have to say about their concerns about safety, listening to the solutions that they have is really important.”

Holly Bernstein

Holly Bernstein

Holly Bernstein is a political reporter born and raised in Arizona. Back home she is a broadcast political reporter and presenter on Arizona PBS. She is in London chasing her dreams of covering politics around the world and believes in covering what matters anytime, anywhere.

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  • Andrew Dickinson

    If there are more programmes like these then I sincerely hope they set up stalls in what I’d call ‘hotspots’ such as outside McDonalds opposite Centrale, down Church Street between the two chicken shops and the McDonalds and then West Croydon station to name three. Being set up in the shopping centres, is all nice and cosy and handy for a Starbucks, but I believe it misses the target audience and also doing this during half term, to me makes no sense as they need to be there when the schools are coming out. The snapshot that I witnessed was several officers looking bored on a stall in Centrale whilst the McDonalds a few yards away was packed with youths, pushing, shoving and dissing each other. As I say it was just a snapshot as I passed through and no doubt the officers went over there to engage with these youths and do the awareness raising that is needed.
    The cynic in me does think that these events are more about being seen to be doing something, hoping that an audience comes to them rather than getting out to where the audience might be and really doing some worthwhile engagement.
    Also, I cannot understand why Lives not Knives don’t seem to have been involved?