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Friday, December 29, 2006

Make a stand over use of knives - report

The local paper in my city has kindly helped promote this blog - and its nature. That's a level of responsibility missing from some parts of the media.

Chichester Observer - Make a stand over use of knives

If you have a knife story in West Sussex that should be in the public domain, contact Clare Hawkin at the Observer.

Knife threat raises fears about police & authorities

Just now I received a very disturbing phone call from a Sussex resident. Chances are he could be dead now - it seems only luck, or God's grace, kept him alive to tell me his story.

He lives in a block of flats and, with his family, was terrorised for months by, he said, a man, as well as a woman who had suffered mental illness.

As well as being threatened by a knife, slogans were daubed around his home, doors kicked in. A very scary tale.

The knife was an ordinary kitchen carving knife - it was kept specially stored in the woman's home as a weapon (not kept in the kitchen). It had 'pride of place' to be brandished when the woman wanted to use it.

Calls to the authorities failed to solve the problem for many months. The worrying part here is that this law-abiding resident (from Chichester) could easily have been stabbed and died well before any action was taken to stop this woman threatening him with a knife.

Can the authorities, can the police be counted on when a knife attack is threatened or carried out? Looks like the jury is still out on this.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Knife weapons removed from shop window

When Shane Freer went into a Chichester hardware shop and easily bought a hunting-type knife so he could kill Jackie Marshall, the shop brazenly displayed such weapons in its window.

Walking past there last night amid the joyful Christmas lights, I noticed the flick-knives and what I would call 'obvious knife weapons' are no longer on show.

The shop - David Messam in East Street - is to be commended for taking a progressive step. While pen knives and the like are still advertised as some kind of 'must have' accessory, the 'obvious weapons' are not.

Do you know any other shops displaying 'obvious weapons' in their windows? Why not pop in and ask them to take them off the shelves. Just a thought.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Amnesties fail to cut knife crime

A Reuters report just published shows knife amnesties fail to reduce crime, despite taking thousands of weapons off the streets.

So the main argument put forward in the article to tackle knife crime was for the government to tackle the underlying causes of crime and develop a "coherent, evidence-based" response.

See Reuters report

I had said this after the trial of Shane Freer, who admitted killing Jacky Marshall at McDonald's in Chichester last year.

It seems like the evidence shows knife amnesties are next to useless. As one legal tactic, I believe politicians should focus on retailers.

Prevent easy access to at least the most dangerous knives by placing them in locked cabinets, require id to buy them, require licences if appropriate.

Main parts of the report:

Scotland Yard said a national amnesty which began in May after a series of high-profile stabbings had little effect in the capital.

Knife crime in London dipped briefly during the two-month amnesty, only to return to normal levels within weeks. About 100,000 knives were handed in across the country.

The police report showed there was an average of 34.9 knife crimes in London each day before the amnesty and 34.2 per day six weeks later.

Scotland Yard said amnesties were only one tactic used to fight crime.

"We have always recognised that a knife amnesty on its own is limited in its effectiveness in tackling knife crime," it said in a statement.

More than 1,000 people were arrested during the crackdown.

A charity reported in August that amnesties have a "negligible impact" on crime because knives can be bought anywhere.

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies said knives will be available "as long as there is unsliced bread".

It urged the government to tackle the underlying causes of crime and develop a "coherent, evidence-based" response.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Knives: Young Londoners targeted in anti-knife drive

I spotted an interesting idea from London which highlighted approaches to try to address the knife-carrying culture.

See article: Young People Now website

In short, five charitable trusts are supporting the initiative by funding the initiative. The organisations were chosen for their ability to target different groups in different settings.

Each will be funded for three years to carry out anti-knife work in a London area, with the possibility of a two-year extension.

One of the projects is likely to include a forum of 20 young people. They will be involved in peer education, and will also run events to publicise the dangers of carrying and using knives.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Lawyer's knife killers cause same pain as mine

Did you see the news about murdered lawyer Tom ap Rhys Pryce? My heart goes out to his fiancée. She described his loss in an 'impact statement' to the court. She said it is impossible to convey in words the pain and horror at such a brutal end to her lover's life. As someone who was caught up in a knife killing - trying to help a victim - I feel almost the same.

Jacky Marshall's death was so needless at the hands of her killer Shane Freer. Talking with her family since, they too are devastated. Nothing goes away, it's with you all the time. The trauma, pain and loss - and what happens in these murders, killings and attacks - is just always there.

Murderered lawyer's fiancée tells of indescribable pain - Daily Mirror

And what about the latest revelations? Research shows street robbers are increasingly likely to kill for kicks not cash.

The Daily Mirror article I read said most attackers wanted to boost their "street cred", have a fight or just enjoy the "buzz" of committing crime.

One robber said: "It weren't for money. I had money. It was more like the buzz you get from doing things. I was more addicted to robbing than I was to drugs. I get a funny feeling robbing."

Another said: "It's for the fun. The point of street robbery is to get him to fight back, innit? If he won't fight back, we just give him a kick and go."

A third said: "I picked a fight with the first people I come across. I started hitting one. Then I jumped on him."

A third of those interviewed had been arrested more than 50 times.

Criminologists Trevor Bennett and Fiona Brookman, who carried out the study for the Economics and Social Research Council, said: "This worrying social problem is poorly understood."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rio Ferdinand backs anti-knife drive

Some positive news - one of England’s top soccer players has made a plea to the nation's young people: Respect Your Life - Not a Knife.

In a bid to stop young people carrying knives, Rio Ferdinand launched a hard-hitting anti-weapons campaign today — warning kids: “Knives are not cool, they kill.”

See full coverage at the BBC and the Sun newspaper.

Rio is desperate to wipe out the scourge of killings by blade-wielding youngsters on Britain’s streets. Rio (28) knows only too well the peril of knives having grown up on a tough inner city estate in Peckham, South London.

He helped establish the Damilola Taylor Trust in 2000 after the ten-year-old schoolboy — whose dad Richard is also involved with the initiative — was fatally stabbed nearby.

Rio said: “Trying to be a gangster isn’t cool. Kids who carry knives and weapons have their lives changed irreversibly.

“Some carry them through fear to protect themselves, but it’s no protection. If you have problems speak to someone you trust. Someone who can help in a positive way.

“The statistics are shocking and show that 28 per cent of children in mainstream schools and 57 per cent of excluded children said they’d carried a knife in the last year.”

As part of the initiative, youngsters will be urged to make an anti-knife pledge. Almost 4,000 schools across the UK will be encouraged to take part in the scheme by putting up pledge walls.

It is hoped displays, made up of poems, thoughts and comments made by the children, will encourage communication and enforce the dangers of carrying knives.

A Damilola Taylor Trust spokesman said: "Statistics show that the vast majority of knife crime injuries are caused when kids carry them to defend themselves and then they are used against them."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Anti-knife campaigning - enforcement alone is not enough

North of the English border, the Scots may be making better progress towards tackling knife crime.

I wonder how to better 'seize the day' in England to make the selling and carrying of knives a more responsible activity (in the same way we tackle smoking cigarettes with legislation, education - and big 'you're going to die' notices on packets of fags!). What do you think are ways to tackle this problem?

Here's a summary of the news I spotted in Scotland:

A major new campaign aimed at challenging attitudes towards the carrying of knives across Scotland has been launched.

It is the latest effort to tackle the problem and follows new legislation to toughen the laws on knife carrying.

The campaign will be conducted at a cost of £580,000, with anti-knife roadshows touring areas affected by violent crime.

Enforcement alone cannot solve Scotland's knife culture, according to campaigners, who aim to challenge the idea that knife carrying is acceptable and/or normal.

Read full BBC story

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Knife crime blog is to launch on NewsNow online portal

(Click here to view the UK's top crime news portal)

Please take a look at the crime news feed on NewsNow - the UK's leading online press monitoring company. They have kindly agreed to post this blog on their online Internet service.

With more than 1.1m users worldwide, NewsNow's services include, one of the UK's most popular news portals.

Today, NewsNow monitors breaking news in 22 languages from thousands of the Internet's most important online publications, including international, national and regional titles, newswires, magazines, press releases and exclusively online news sources.

Corporate services include online press cuttings, market intelligence, competitor tracking and web site and intranet content.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Regina v FREER - verdict: Sussex Police

Click on image above to see Brighton Trials Unit letter about Freer's conviction.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

'Full inquiry' plea from victim's husband

Eddie Marshall, the husband of stabbed McDonald's manager Jacky Marshall, has called for a full inquiry into how her killer's mental health problems (who had Asperger Syndrome) went undiagnosed.

Lessons must be learned from the case to avoid further tragedies in the future, says Eddie.

Eddie Marshall has questioned why Shane Freer's affliction by the Asperger Syndrome was not diagnosed.

Mr Marshall (64) said: "Obviously Asperger's comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. His was a very severe form. That's one of the things that I'll never understand – why he managed to slip through the system."

He added: "He was always considered a loner and someone who didn't mix well and it's a mystery why it wasn't picked up before. I think it needs to be looked into and investigated

"Everybody has been let down. Society has been let down. Obviously his parents don't want this either. There are no winners here. We all lost on April 16, 2006."

Mark Dunn, West Sussex County Councillor who has responsibility for child services, said compared with ten years ago when there were less monitoring processes, the system had improved and changed for identifying children who show concerning behaviour.

He said: "The whole ethos today is that diagnosis happens very early on and to make an early intervention."

'No link' between autism and crime

The National Autistic Society has said there is no link between autism, including Asperger Syndrome, and crime - and there was no evidence to suggest people with autism were more likely to break the law than any member of the public.

In a statement, the society said: "In fact, in many cases individuals are unusually concerned to keep to the letter of the law. A person with autism will have individual personality traits and facets to their character, just like any other person, that make up who they are and determine their actions."

It said the syndrome was a form of autism that was a lifelong development disability which affected people in different ways and affected their social and communication skills.

It said there was concern that people with autism may be more vulnerable to criminal acts against them because of their social difficulties.

A charity providing support to people with autism has said Asperger Syndrome sufferers are not likely to be violent.

Lisa Perks, chief executive of the Sussex Autistic Society, said: "It is not common for someone with Asperger Syndrome that they will stab people. It is certainly not typical behaviour that someone with autism is violent."

She said service provision needed to catch up with the increase in diagnoses seen over the last few years.

Specialist schools did not suit all children with autism and support for people with the condition was determined on an individual basis, she said.

A mother of a child with autism was concerned by press coverage of the Shane Freer court case which she said has given people with the condition a reputation as criminals.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said great damage had been done.
"People on the autistic spectrum have enough difficulties to face without adding further public prejudice caused by ignorance and fear of their condition."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

McDonald's Killer Gets Life Sentence

I was a witness at a fatal attack in McDonald's in Chichester - a small city on the English south coast, UK, between Portsmouth and Brighton.

My initial thinking in the aftermath is best supporting the victims of such a knife crime. Much has been written and broadcast about the man who committed this killing - but it's time to think of the victims, especially the affected families. My experience of this has shown they are not as well helped as they could be.

Overview: A man with a severe form of autism was jailed for life and detained under the Mental Health Act at
Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire for stabbing his manager in front of customers on a busy Saturday lunchtime .

Shane Kevin Freer (21), of First Avenue, Batchmere, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility (he had
Asperger Syndrome) for a "horrific, frenzied, ferocious and crazed" attack on 56-year-old Jacky Marshall in April 2005.
Tribute to Jacky from her husband, Eddie

Here I list some of the website addresses for you to check news coverage of the court case:
Local paper - The Observer
The Guardian
Daily Mail
The Sunday Times
The Mirror
The Sun
Google search

What did you think about what happened? There'll be more written here over time about your views, but also the difficulties and issues that the victims suffered and continue to deal with. Jacky's family are backing this blog and are keen that systems are changed and improved, that knife crime can be reduced.

It is my intention to use this blog as a kind of living petition to change things with regard to knife crime - and to at least press for better help for victims during the machinations of the legal system.

Do start sending your thoughts, insight, inside knowledge, information - whatever you believe may help.

Many thanks.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tackling knife crime

Good news to try to halt growing knife culture - hopefully

Perhaps as a result of the ongoing police and Government-led knife amnesty, our country's leaders are now under heavy pressure to tighten knife laws, implement new ones.

And today, new Home Office Secretary of State John Reid says he is considering tougher sentences for those carrying knives.

More details on ITV... link

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Knife crime - why start a blog?

Knife crime
My 'knife crime' court case is due later this year and is sub judice (I was a witness, not an accused). As time goes by, I am thinking about telling my story in a compassionate, non-sensational way with one aim - to stop people using or owning knives with life-threatening intent.

The whole 'knife crime' event I was caught up in was traumatising. Since the event, it has acutely sensitised me to 'knife crime' stories that now seem to abound in the UK.

I thought I would start a 'knife crime' blog to capture relevant stories, opinion and focus about 'knife crime', mainly with the aim to highlight the problem, perhaps generating publicity, interest and maybe pressure etc that can help stop this sickening scourge on our society today.

This blog is starting out not expecting to be anything great, but to maybe develop some kind of snowball momentum to press for change - in laws, in attitudes, in society.

Please join me. Do you have thoughts on 'knife crime'? Websites to link to? Help to offer? Suggestions to give? Ideas to press for change for the better?

Please - let's start capturing them here...