The issue of knife crime and the impact it has on Southwark’s communities has been thrust into the spotlight once again in recent weeks and months after a spate of tragic and senseless violent episodes.
Only this time last year that Southwark emerged as the borough with the worst knife crime rate in London and, despite the tireless work of local policing teams, this unenviable title is set to remain in place.
There is no single cause or reason to explain why knife crime has seen such a sharp rise recently – a perfect storm of funding cuts both to the MET and to Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations (many of whom provide invaluable youth and play services) may not cause knife crime, but they have certainly contributed to its increase.
But as the local communities from the Elmington estate to the Brandon Estate demand that the basic infrastructure needed to help prevent this from happening in future is put in place, now is the time to highlight some of the ways in which local people can come together to help tackle the issue head on.
Southwark Police coordinate Community weapons searches where people can sweep estates and public spaces to find and dispose of hidden weapons. They would like to get more community members involved in this as a show of community strength and also in that by getting rid of these weapons it prevents more violent crime.
You can find out about them on the @MPSSouthwark twitter.
Southwark Police Community, Faith & Hate Crime Engagement
Stu Wythe, the PC who leads on Southwark Police’s engagement work, is happy to come and speak to any community group/parents/neighbours to give advice about what to be alert for how to be aware of gang crime and young people at risk etc.
For more information please drop Stu a line firstname.lastname@example.org
Southwark Anti-Knife Crime Forum
Southwark has an Anti-Knife Crime Forum which looks to broaden the conversation to all members of the community who are affected, as well as developing active measures that seek to mitigate the impact of knife crime on the communities of the borough.
It's Co-Chair Elena Noel (First Co-Chair of Southwark Safer Neighbouhood Board - MOPAC) has spent many years engaging with many communities, groups and parents across estates in the borough helping them to find funding, write project bid applications, trial new ideas and deliver tried and tested initiatives to combat the growing problem of gangs and youth violence.
Elena organised the AKCF Knife Crime Summit in Peckham on 20th June 2018 which was supported by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), many other statutory and voluntary sector partners, and parents and young people directly affected by knife crime.
If you want to find out more about the work of Elena and the forum, or about the summit, then please get in touch. AntiKnifeCrimeForum@gmail.com
Staff from the charity Redthread delivering their presentation at the Knife Crime Summit
Voluntary Sector Organisations
There are many Voluntary and Community sector organisations operating not only in Southwark, but more widely across London, working to reduce the impact of violence and provide young people with the opportunities that they need to thrive.
Many of these have volunteering schemes, or are seeking donations from the public, so if you want to find out ways that you can get involved click on the respective links below:
- Damilola Taylor Trust
- Jimmy Mizen Foundation
- David Idowu Foundation
- Word For Weapons
- Red Thread
- Ben Kinsella Trust
Two organisations listed below were recently supported by the Southwark Safer Neighbourhoods Board:
World of Hope
As part of this initiative, a group of young people were trained to become ‘youth ambassadors’ in this area. They were responsible for planning and hosting the event that you read about in this link.
Growing Against Violence
GAV has a programme that specifically targets schools in Southwark. Find out more about the ‘Friends and Firendly’ project, as well as all of the other work that GAV leads on, by clicking here.
Summer Activities for Young People
Soulthwark council have put together a comprehensive list detailing a wide range of activities for young people this summer and, even though the new school year is creeping ever closer, there is still plenty left to get involved in.
Southwark Knife Crime and Knife Carrying Action Plan 2017 – 2019
This two year action plan will take forward and shape existing responses to knife crime in Southwark using these themes:
- Consultation and Engagement
- Information sharing and intelligence development
- Communication of key messages and awareness raising
- Building resilience
- Prevention and early intervention
- Enforcement against perpetrators
The document is a fairly complex one but it does give an idea of what statutory bodies (such and Southwark council) are doing about the issue of Knife Crime.
Local Elected Representatives
Harriet Harman, Camberwell and Peckham’s long-serving MP, has recently met with residents on both the Brandon and the Elmington estate to listen to their concerns in the wake of the tragic events that have taken place there.
If you would like to contact her to share your views or concerns you can do so by emailing her at email@example.com
To find out who your local ward councillors are, and how to contact them, please click here.
Children and Young Families Provider Led Group
Community Southwark helps support the Children and Young Families PLG which brings together charities and community organisations working with young people to try and influence policy and decision makers.
They are currently seeking to start a piece of work looking at how the voluntary and community sector can come together to tackle some of the issues around knife crime, including how to make a stonrger case for funding.
If you are an organisation or community group and would like to get involved, then please contact Steve Smith. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any ideas or suggestions, or would like our support in any way, please get in touch. email@example.com