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Latest News 2018-02-08T17:33:14+00:00

THE REAL CRIME IS A LOST GENERATION

Jan 24, 2018
School boy Jermaine Goupall was just minutes from his home when he was stabbed in the thigh  – bleeding out on the pavement – as he tried to flee masked knife wielding teenagers.

A court has been hearing how it was the climax of a feud between the CR7 and CR0 gang over music videos on You Tube.

Kyall, 17, was stabbed once through the heart and died on the street on New Year’s Eve  in Tulse Hill after a row with fellow teenagers. Police say Kyall had a knife and was witnessed acting ‘very aggressively’ before his death.

Detectives told Southwark coroners court  that during the confrontation with his killer, Kyall’s friends told him to “stab him, finish him off”, which the younger boy claimed caused him to take out his own knife from his bag and stab Kyall in an attempt to protect himself.

Derryck John is featured in a missing poster last summer and a week later commits an appalling series of acid attacks that shocks the nation leaving one victim with life changing injuries. He committed the crimes with an unknown assailant and now faces a considerable prison sentence. In a statement, John said he was frightened of the other man involved, who is much older than him.

What links all these boys is their ages, ethnicity and home address – Thornton Heath – and how momentary ill-conceived acts end lives,  futures and devastate families.

The victims and perpetrators are often the same individuals and music, peer pressure, and social media are contributing to young people making poor choices.

Preferring to live for now rather than the future,  money and respect is valued over aspiration for some of our young.

Last week Magdalene Adenaike of Music Relief chaired a Youth Initiative meeting attended by youth groups, parents and residents in Thornton Heath which called for a community youth champion, to act as go-between raising the concerns of the community with the council.

Croydon had one of the highest levels of youth violence in London over the past year.

It can’t be a coincidence that the council’s children’s services and the Croydon Safeguarding Children Board (CSCB), which tackles issues such as gang and knife crime, were rated “inadequate” by inspectors.

Youth services  and the police have also faced huge cuts with  fewer officers struggling to tackle soaring knife crime.

At the meeting concerns  were raised about how some young people choose to follow others with a “sheep mentality”, for fear of looking stupid.

This led to calls for initiatives to help the young make better decisions by being able to signpost them and their families to organisations that will enable them to channel their energies positively.

It also highlighted the need for parents to take a role in ensuring they knew the whereabouts of their children.

An in-depth conversation about knife crime focussed on the impact on teenagers, especially when the victim is known to them.

Joan Idris, from Off The Record which offers free counselling and on-line support to young people said: “More and more young people are dealing with the devastating affects of losing someone they know to violence and often they are not signposted to seek emotional support for bereavement or the anxiety they are experiencing.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced an extra £15 million to tackle the knife crime epidemic and if any additional income raised from council tax can be invested in youth services.

Clearly this is a complex issue and won’t have a simple overnight solution. It  isn’t just about statutory organisations – it’s about parents, schools and the community working together to ensure that the next generation has the confidence to be different and value life more.

If you are dealing with the loss of a close friend, get in touch with Off The Record for confidential support

www.talkofftherecord.org

Last year 16-year-old Derryck John carried out six acid attacks in 90 minutes in order to steal mopeds.

Five young people are in court accused of the murder of 15-year-old Jermaine Goupall on Georgia Road.

The 16-year-old boy who killed Kyall Parnell, may not be charged with his murder because he “acted in self-defence”.

‘It feels so close to home’: spate of stabbings unnerves London teenagers

One at a time, the children in the room stand up and perform in front of their peers and relatives – a song from Disney’s Frozen, a monologue from a play, a joke worthy of a Christmas cracker – while audience members observe a respectful quiet.

Along with a passion for performing arts, the youngsters assembled for the talent show at Croydon’s BME Forum have something else in common: in one way or another their lives have been touched by knife crime.

This isn’t the reason they have been brought together – the event has been organised by the youth group Music Relief Foundation (MRF), which is about using creativity to unleash young people’s potential. It is an unfortunate reality that if you’re a teenager in London, you or someone you know will have a story to tell about knife violence.

As well as stories of stabbings, the children all have strong views on how the problem – branded an epidemic by some – could be tackled.

After singing a touching rendition of Killing Me Softly, Nia Shaw, 18, tells the Guardian she knows the prime suspect in the killing of Kyall Parnell, a 17-year-old stabbed in Tulse Hill on New Year’s Eve. The 16-year-old boy, who has been arrested, lives two minutes from her home. “It happens all the time but you never expect it when it’s someone you know,” she says. “I didn’t think of him as someone who would carry a knife or any weapon. It now just feels so close to home.”

Parnell was one of four young people stabbed to death in the space of 15 hours over the new year period. The spate of unconnected stabbings across London brought the issue of knife crime back into focus once again. The story is fast becoming stuck on repeat.

Nia, who lives in Tulse Hill and attends Richmond-upon-Thames college, says she feels unnerved by the recent violence. “I feel like these stabbings didn’t really even have a target, they’re just innocent people getting caught up in them.”

“I think poverty is a factor,” she adds. She thinks punishment for knife crimes could be more severe. “It keeps on happening. The thought of punishment should stop you from making that mistake.”

She and many of her friends at MRF advocate youth clubs as a resource to help young people make better use of their time. But Nia says these clubs cannot just be a room in a community centre with the door left open for teenagers to come and go. “The club needs to be more than a space or a room,” she says. “It needs to have actual facilities and provide activities for young people to do.”

Javan Roberts, 15, attends the famous Brit School in Croydon, whose alumni include Adele and Amy Winehouse. At his previous school, Javan knew Jermaine Goupall, who died aged 15 after he was stabbed in the leg in in Thornton Heath last year. Javan learned of his former friend’s death through social media.

“It was so instant and unexpected,” he says. “I just clicked on Snapchat and I hear someone I knew had died. I heard about it and wrote a song.” And the message? “Its chorus went: ‘Cold blood, the brothers have no love.’”

Javan says he sees and hears about knife violence on an almost daily basis. “It’s repeated a lot,” he said. “You hear of boys trying to prove themselves, sometimes they’re trying to protect themselves.” But he is not intimidated. “I don’t feel scared. Some people are quite silly in the way they present themselves. I don’t need to act like a badman or a roadman because that’s not who I am.”

Kai Henderson, 13, was friends with Michael Jonas, a 17-year-old stabbed in Betts Park, Anerley, in south London last year. “He was stabbed a week after I last saw him,” he says. “That made me feel scared – if I went to that park it could be me. I’m still kind of scared of going back.”

Kai, who attends Orchard Park High in Croydon, has known of boys kicked out of school for carrying weapons but he does not believe that to be the answer. “That’s not right,” he says. “They’re taken out of school and put in places with other bad kids, where all the bad kids go. They should stay in school and should be given access to counsellors with support to help them out.”

Angel Lowe, 12, gives a spirited performance of a monologue from a play she has been studying at Gordon’s school, a state-run, voluntary-aided boarding school in Surrey. Angel boards there Monday to Friday before returning home to South Norwood at weekends. “When I’m at school I’m away from knife crime,” she says. “But when I’m home I’m reminded of it often.”

Angel says her stepsister’s cousin was stabbed 14 times in Peckham. “He was so lucky he didn’t die.” . She says many perpetrators of knife violence are part of an ignored part of society. “Maybe if someone was there just to listen to them and their views, they would be different. So many people feel like they’re not heard.” She also thinks the police who work in the communities to reduce knife crime need to be less confrontational.

Joshua Jean-Pierre, 13, who attends Harris Academy South Norwood, had a near-miss with a stabbing. “We had finished school, we were going to get a McDonald’s. My friend saw this boy who had tried to rob him before. He came over to us and he was about to get something out of his bag – we knew it was going to be a knife.”

A passing member of the public intervened and defused the situation, but it left him shaken. Perhaps he could turn to the police? “The police have come into our schools and searched our bags. It doesn’t make me feel safe. Children worry that the police will plant something in our bag and we’ll be arrested. There isn’t any trust.” And what about the government? “The government does nothing to tackle knife crime,” Joshua says. “They spend all their time and money on Brexit and not anywhere near enough on youth.”

Magdalene Adenaike, 37, set up Music Relief Foundation, originally for young mums, after she had her first child when she was 18. It evolved into a youth organisation with a goal of reaching out through music. “Young people are able to express themselves through music,” she says. “It’s a powerful and positive way of getting strong messages across.” MRF has a knife crime awareness campaign, More than Able, and last week representatives attended parliament with the Croydon MP Sarah Jones.

Among the audience at the MRF talent show are proud parents of the children taking part. Kai’s playful grandmother can’t resist joining in and steps up to the front to recite Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise. The children are captivated.

It’s a warm and magical moment in which the sense of the community in the room – and, particularly after the conversations that have taken place, its underlying fragility – is laid bare.

Young people ‘being let down’ as Croydon more than quarters its youth service spending

January 25 2018

The number of youth workers in Croydon – the borough with the largest child population in London – has fallen by 69% in four years.

A freedom of information request revealed that in an area with about 40,000  residents aged 11-18,  full time jobs in youth work plunged from 61 in 2013-14, to just 19 in 2017-2018.In addition to this, the total amount spent on youth services in the borough dropped from more than £3.8million in 2013-14, to £794,000 in 2017-18. According to the council, spending figures between 2013 and 2016 are incomparable to those given for 2016/17 due to ‘multiple restructures and changes to service provision’.

Magdalene Adenaike, founder of Music Relief, a youth organisation in Croydon, said: “It’s very disturbing to see the figures.

Individuals and organisations with great intentions to support the youths are unfortunately being forced to seek alternative employment due to lack of funds.

“The young people are left without the support they desperately need and the consequences as we now see are very dire.

“We need financial support to help us continue the great work we do with the youths.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has repeatedly called on the Government to reverse cuts to youth services to help tackle the recent rise in knife crime across the city – and Croydon has one of the highest rates of knife crime in London.

Two of last year’s most high profile cases involved 17-year-old Aren Mali, killed in Croydon town centre’s main shopping street, and 16-year-old Jermaine Goupall murdered in Thornton Heath.

Mr Khan tweeted on January 4: “Government cuts to youth services, education, probation & the police are letting young Londoners down. They need to urgently prioritise these services if we are to tackle crime across our city.”

 

Government cuts to youth services, education, probation & the police are letting young Londoners down. They need to urgently prioritise these services if we are to tackle crime across our city. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/sadiq-khan-crime-weak-causes-violence-london-met-police-theresa-may-home-office-stabbings-murders-a8141436.html 

Sadiq Khan accuses Government of being ‘weak on causes of crime’ amid rising violence

Sadiq Khan has attacked the Government over being “weak on the causes of crime” and suggested that cuts could be driving rising violence. Speaking after four young men were murdered in unrelated…

independent.co.uk

 
 

A Croydon Council spokesperson said wider government budget cuts were to blame for the figures showing a drop in youth services spending.

He highlighted a new youth engagement strategy implemented last year. “We have since shaped our delivery to reflect the needs of communities across the borough and increased our face to face sessions with young people,” he said.
“You will see from your campaigns there is a strong focus on giving young people a real voice in local decision-making.”

In a cabinet meeting on October 18 last year, Croydon Council set out its strategy for ‘championing children in Croydon’, which they estimated would cost £10,000.
As part of the strategy, a Young Mayor of Croydon will be elected this spring by 11-18 year-olds who live in the borough.

The Young Major will serve a fixed term and work with other young people to manage a budget that will benefit local voluntary sector groups.

How Scotland reduced knife deaths among young people

Sun 3 Dec 2017
In 2005, Strathclyde police set up a violence reduction unit (VRU) in an effort
to address a problem that had made Glasgow, in particular, notorious. Later
that year, a United Nations report illustrated why that strategy was so urgent.

The study concluded that Scotland was the most violent country in the
developed world. Based on telephone interviews with crime victims conducted
between 1991 and 2000, it found that excluding murder, Scots were almost
three times as likely to be assaulted as Americans and 30 times more likely
than the Japanese.
The VRU, which is directly funded by the Scottish government and has an
arms-length relationship with Police Scotland, was later rolled out across
Scotland. It has adopted a public health approach to knife crime, in which the
police work with those in the health, education and social work sectors to
address the problem. The results so far have been dramatic.
Of the 35 children and teenagers who have been killed with knives in Britain
so far this year, not one has been in Scotland. By contrast, in England and
Wales, 2017 looks set to become the worst year for deaths of young people by
knives in nearly a decade, according to figures revealed by the Guardian’s
Beyond the blade project, which aims to show the true picture of knife deaths
among children and teenagers in the UK.
Between April 2006 and April 2011, 40 children and teenagers were killed in
homicides involving a knife in Scotland; between 2011 and 2016, that figure
fell to just eight. The decline has been most precipitous in Glasgow, which
once had one of the highest murder rates in Western Europe. Between 2006
and 2011, 15 children and teenagers were killed with knives in Scotland’s
largest city; between April 2011 and April 2016, none were.

The number of people carrying knives also appears to have declined across
Scotland. According to figures from Police Scotland, there was 10,110 recorded
incidents of handling an offensive weapon in 2006-07, a figure which fell to
3,111 in 2015-16 – a decline of 69% in a decade.
The Scottish Police Federarion and police officers have raised concerns in
recent years that true extent of violent crime excluding murder might not be
fully represented in the figures. Crime recording methods were changed in
April 2017 and Police Scotland say knife crime has always been accurately
recorded in the country.
Some of Scotland’s success in tackling knife crime is due to factors that are
arguably unique to Scotland. But there are also lessons here for the rest of the
UK in general and London in particular. The evidence from Scotland suggests
that while knife crime, like most crimes, can never be eradicated, it need not
be understood as an intractable, cultural feature of urban life. To successfully
tackle it, however, there needs to be a shift in understanding of the root causes
of the problem and, therefore, what a durable solution might look like.

Awards for All – £300 – £10,000 Grants

Awards for All England is the quick and easy way to get small Lottery grants of between £300 and £10,000 for voluntary and community organisations.

Awards for All offers grants of between £300 and £10,000 for grassroots and community activity that aims to improve life for local people and neighbourhoods.

It doesn’t have a deadline and you can apply at any time. It is our most popular grants programme so we will prioritise groups with smaller incomes. Due to high demand on the programme, organisations that have a large annual income may not be able to get funding through Awards for All.

We recommend you send us your application at least four months before you want your project to start.

Please read the guidance notes (below) for a better chance of success with your application. We have very clear criteria as to what we can and cannot fund and explain how we prioritise applications to allow us to decide on which projects to fund.

Croydon BME Forum is available to support you in putting your application together.  Call us on 02086843719 to book an appointment.

Click here to read more and to apply.

A Manifesto for Race Equality in Britain

With the snap election just around the corner, we have looked at the power of the black vote and developed a race equality manifesto to address some of the issues facing black and minority (BME) communities in the UK.  Read the preface below.Britain is at a crossroads. Brexit, immigration, and British identity. 

How these issues play out in this snap election will determine the country’s direction for a generation.

The key question is to what extent will black and minority ethnic communities (BME) be involved in this debate?

A Manifesto for Race Equality in Britain

After all, the outcome will deeply affect BME communities here.

Whilst this country has a proud record of being at the forefront of tackling race equality, not least as a result of grassroots movements driving change, in recent years some hard fought for gains have been lost. Race has fallen off the agenda and we have witnessed an unprecedented rise in xenophobia, Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism.

Persistent race inequalities in employment, education, housing and the criminal justice system has meant and lack of social mobility for BME children growing up to be adults is nothing short of a scandal. Many do succeed despite the barriers but too many fail to have their potential recognised much less fulfilled.

That is why we are calling for a government-wide race equality strategy to root out racial inequality wherever it lurks in the system.

Our goal during this election is to demand a plan to unshackle BME talent so that it can flourish, and to quash the normalisation of race hate filled rhetoric from politicians and commentators such a Katie Hopkins, and Kelvin McKenzie.

This is a manifesto for change and a rallying call to our communities that in an election where our vote counts, we demand respect, equality and chance to fulfill our great potential.

We are a collection of race equality organisations and individuals, one that will benefit the whole of society.

Click here to visit the website for A Manifesto for Race Equality in Britain