There’s so many massive issues facing London right now. The incredibly challenging impact of coronavirus, the potential impact of Brexit, a huge housing crisis etc etc.
But there’s one problem that darkens our skies every single day – kids getting stabbed on our streets.
The simple fact is that for whatever reason, people’s kids – and let’s be clear many of them are just kids – are getting caught up in gangs, picking up knives and guns and stabbing or shooting other people’s kids almost every single day.
Stopping this happening has to be the number one priority for whoever becomes London Mayor this weekend.
Especially seeing as there often seems to be no rhyme or reason behind these random stabbings. Not even a tiny ounce of a compelling motive why the person was attacked.
It’s become an accepted part of London life, something we’re ‘just all used to hearing about’.
But it’s just not OK to let this continue.
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A total of 34 people have been murdered so far in London just this year. That’s 34 people’s sons and daughters. 12 of them were under the age of 20.
Just this week, (Wednesday, May 5), a teenage by was hospitalised after being stabbed in Chelsea Harbour.
The day before (May 4), 21-year-old Gedeon Ngwendema was stabbed during a fight at Brent Cross Shopping Centre at around 6.45pm. He tragically died at the scene.
According to those who knew him, Gedeon was the youngest of three siblings and a “lovely person”.
A post-mortem examination has found he died from a single stab wound.
On April 26, 18-year-old Abubakar Jah, was shot and stabbed in Coolfin Road, Canning Town, at around 2.45pm. He was pronounced dead at the scene and a post-mortem gave the cause of death as knife and gunshots wounds.
Abubakar, also known as Junior, was the brother of Ahmed Jah, who was stabbed to death at the age of 21 in nearby Freemasons Road in April 2017.
On April 23, Fares Maatou, 14, was stabbed in Barking Road, Canning Town, at around 3.56pm. He was pronounced dead shortly after 4.30pm. Police believe he was riding an e-scooter at the time of his death which was probably stolen from him.
Two boys aged 14 and 15 have been charged with murder. Several others were charged with being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine and heroin.
The list goes on, and on, and on.
And it’s not just youngsters either. It seems now to be a pretty normal occurrence for much older people to suddenly be set upon and killed.
In one horrific example, Michael Fadayomi, 40, was stabbed in High Road, Willesden, on April 29. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said the incident started on a Route 260 bus and continued out onto the High Road and into a fast food shop. Marcus Griffiths, 42, of Hoveden Road, NW2, was charged with murder.
And on February 15 at 4.15pm a man in his 40s, was walking with his wife on Fernwood Avenue in Wembley when an unknown man approached the pair from behind and struck the man causing him to fall on the floor.
The suspect ran off in the direction of Chaplin Road, closely followed by the victim and his wife who initially attempted to pursue the man.
At this point the suspect produced a large knife, and in CCTV footage released by the police the man is seen pointing the knife in the direction of the victim as he began chasing him in the opposite direction back down Chaplin Road.
Now you can talk about strategies and about addressing the route causes – and millions of pounds have been spent hammering out approaches and putting together reports to ‘deal with the problem’ of knife crime.
But this year’s figures show it’s just not working.
Yes we have more police operations with knife sweeps and amnesties, and undercover operations targeting the gangs who recruit youngsters into county lines.
Yes councils have officers committed to dealing with ant-social behaviour and there are numerous community groups and organisations whose aim is to stop youngsters heading down the wrong path.
But the simple fact is until sentencing is much much tougher for those who carry and use knives, nothing will change. There need to be instant and unforgiving penalties for anyone found using an offensive weapon.
Of course alongside this the community efforts to tackle poverty and a lack of education which fuel gang crime must continue, but those who cross the line must be made to pay for it as a deterrent to others. The potential punishment needs to become more persuasive than the promise of food, new trainers, drugs and other perks that draw youngsters into the gangs.
Whatever the politicians do in their next terms of office, and whoever becomes London Mayor, as far as I’m concerned the right to life is the basic right we all have, so before anything else, you have to find a way to preserve it.
You’ve put extraordinary measures in place to deal with a coronavirus pandemic – and now they are starting to work – but knife crime is a pandemic too. And if we don’t improve things, we’re all going to be forced to keep our kids in lockdown to shield them from the virus of knife crime.
Like any pandemic, you need tougher measures to combat it. If tat means flooding our neighbourhoods with community police officers then…fair dos if that’s what it takes.
Put us all in permanent lockdown if that’s what it takes.
So ahead of Brexit, ahead of pollution, ahead of housing crisis, please please put this as top priority or we will surely see more than 100 people murdered in London again this year….and the year after that…and the year after that.
What’s been the impact of knife crime on your family? Email firstname.lastname@example.org