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Christian charity warns knife crime will continue without tackling cause

by Eno Adeogun

Despite a new London-wide strategy intended to reduce knife crime, XLP said more needs to be done to prevent young people from carrying knives.

Naomi Allen, Ministries director at XLP told Premier what prompted the charity's warning.

Speaking during News Hour she explained: "The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has said that they are prioritising youth violence and relooking at stop and search and sentencing.

"Both of these we really feel are looking at symptoms, is looking at young people - trying to get knives off the street. But it's not looking at why young people are carrying knives in the first place."

PA wire

Cressida Dick, Metropolitan police commissioner defended the use of stop and search in tackling rising knife crime and told BBC Asian Network many frontline officers believed a decrease in stop and search was a contributory factor behind the recent rise in knife crime.

Founder and CEO of XLP, Patrick Regan OBE said not enough has been done to tackle the drivers which lead people to choose to carry a knife.

Allen echoed this and told Premier there are many reasons young people decide to carry knives in the first place.

She added: "A lot of it is down to fear. A lot of it is down to feeling like 'everyone else is carrying a knife, I should carry one just in case'. However the reasons are complex.

"The Centre for Social Justice has done some research into... crime-linked poverty and this idea that actually family break-down, educational failure, the idea of worklessness all contributing to reasons why people are growing up in situations where carrying a knife seems like a good option."

Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

In May the Met Police announced that there has been a 24 per cent increase of knife related incidences in London in the last year.

XLP said investment in early intervention programmes is crucial, supporting services which are already working, learning best practice and having a long-term holistic view are all actions that should be taken forward if we want to make a transformational difference in the lives of young people.

Allen told Premier that the Church has a role to play also and said: "As a Christian youth work charity ourselves, we're so wanting churches to really get involved and to care about young people that are in their communities.

"One of the things that we've seen to have a huge impact on young people is long-term mentoring. To really commit to working with young people for at least a year.

"We're always trying to encourage churches to not just run like a program which is going to be short-term but to think 'how can we long-term support our young people, get to know them, see life through their eyes and then be able to see maybe what is going to be relevant in our own community'."

Listen to Naomi Allen, Ministries director at XLP speaking with Premier's Alex Williams:

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