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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shocking tally of teenagers killed in UK - 1 every 5 days

Violent deaths of young people in their teenage years for 2008 has reached 65 with nearly two thirds knifed to death. See Telegraph knife crime article. With this figure doubling over the last five years in England's capital city of London, police have decided to make the issue a leading priority to tackle across the UK.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Knife crime and Joe Swash, king of the jungle



Knife crime and "I'm a celebrity, Get me out of here" - I didn't think the two would be connected. But thank goodness they are!

Joe Swash - the winner of the reality TV show set in the outback of Australia over the past three weeks - has donated his charity money, estimated at £30,000, from the show to an anti-knife crime campaign in memory of 16-year-old victim Ben Kinsella.

As a friend of the dead youngster's sister, Brooke, he decided to donate the money to fund anti-street crime and related charity work.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The stabbing problem, Damilola Taylor and David Cameron

There is a thoughtful knife crime interview online between the father of Damilola Taylor, the young lad stabbed to death when he was 10 (eight years go now), and Tory leader David Cameron.

Probably Cameron, out of all leaders I've listened to, has an ability to understand the holistic sense of the knife and other violent crime issues that affect the UK.

He seems able to at least start to articulate the problem. He also seems to indicate some direction(s) required for solutions. It does however demonstrate how far we've got to go to have the kind of safer, happier society that is eluding us. In fact, the worrying part about this interview was how it clearly underlined the fact that UK society has got consistently worse over many years.

Things are deteriorating. I think this interview is a perceptive piece that highlights some areas that have been going wrong. For instance, as a society, we find ourselves in a life of just "work" and "home".

Cameron then says everything in between we've given up on. I don't think that's necessarily true - I think we are forced to work and work to provide profits for others... whether that's the bank we pay mortgages too, the computer store charging hundreds of pounds for a machine out of date in a couple of years, the pub charging £3-£4 for a pint... we know the list is endless.

I wonder if we need to develop a more co-operative approach to our lives, where community develops because each is reliant on others to survive as well as be successful.

Fine words, nice ideas - but a million miles away it seems from solving the knife crime problem. Still, as I've said before... never, never, never give in!

Friday, November 21, 2008

David Messam (former) employee on knife selling, knife crime and the death of Jackie Marshall

I have been contacted by blogger St. Anley in connection with the killing of Jackie Marshall. It was written about my previous post Knife weapons removed from shop window. I publish his post here in full:

This comment is NOT for publication outside the scope of this BLOG.

At the time of the tragic murder of Jackie Marshall I was an employee of David Messam. Being of mature years, our clients often approached me in the misguided belief that I had some managerial position and complained about some of the merchandise displayed in the shop window. I had no executive authority but some sympathy with these observations which I regularly passed on to management.

Following the crime (and it is common knowledge that Shane Freer purchased the weapon at David Messam’s shop) we ceased selling what might be described as ‘hunting knives’ and the window display was reduced considerably. My colleague who undertook the sale of something which came to be used as a weapon was extremely distressed.

There is, however, some misinformation going on. Firstly, the sale of flick-knives is illegal and these were never part of the merchandise. Otherwise, with the exception of an age restriction, the sale of knives is fairly unrestricted. It is not the sale that is illegal, it is the carrying about one’s person in a public place, without good reason…that is. Now, ‘good reason’ is a fairly debatable point.

Then there is the issue of a ‘locking’ blade. Locking blades are considered to be safer for the user than the more usual folding blade of a pen knife. But, being locking, they are considered in law to be a ‘fixed’ blade and, thereby, illegal to carry in a public place…

A disturbing exchange occurred soon after the crime. A smart gentleman entered the shop and identified a knife in the cabinet that he wished to purchase. I demonstrated the knife, which had a locking blade. I advised him of the legalities and, because his physical appearance and demeanour were clearly that of someone over 21, I did not ask for any ID. It was my usual practice to place such items back in the original packaging and supply a sellotaped bag. Having done so, I would advise the customer that, if challenged, the only good reason for carrying it is: “I’m taking it home, Officer.”

Within minutes of this transaction, the customer returned to the shop, knife with open blade in hand, saying, “How do you close it?” I demonstrated once more and repeated my advice.

Within 48 hours a photograph appeared in Portsmouth News of this ‘customer’ standing outside David Messam’s holding the same knife with the locked blade exposed. This was accompanied by a report indicting my employer for selling such merchandise. My response is that the sale was entirely legitimate, but brandishing the knife in East Street for the benefit of a photographer could have resulted in this person’s arrest. He had totally ignored my advice for a cheap piece of publicity that was utterly irrelevant to the genuine outrage at Mrs. Marshall’s untimely death.

Furthermore, one has to consider that shops of this nature also sell such things as cooking knives with fixed blades over 3” long, woodworking tools like chisels, scissors and gardening tools. Even the humble screwdriver could inflict significant damage. Notwithstanding their legitimate usefulness, all of these can be construed to be sharp objects capable of be used as a weapon. Sale, to anyone over the age of 16, of these is within the law. Carrying of same in a public place without good reason may be illegal.

Please understand that I share the widespread concern about violent crime in general, and knife-crime in particular. What I experienced, as a responsible representative of a respectable retail establishment, was misdirected criticism. Don’t blame the vendor; prosecute the user!

Or, alternatively, change the law!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Baby P, knife crime and the state of UK society

Words can't describe how terrible a crime it is for a toddler to be battered to death. What is more worrying is the state of society that has allowed this to happen.

Maybe, some might argue, this type of event isn't common and not, in fact, a reflection of society. However, combine Baby P events with the use of knives on our streets and there is an all too vivid undercurrent of menace and malaise in our country.

Tory leader David Cameron refers to it as a broken society. Perhaps more accurately The Times this week tries to describe the problem as being caused by broken communities around the UK.

Surely it is that. The evidence seems overwhelming. Dependency on the State is a way of life, says The Times - that this has become a country where the State's largesse can be a lifelong livelihood; where parents can have as many children with as many partners as they please without feeling obliged to care for any of them. These are people allowed to grow and develop without, it seems, an ounce of morality.

Broadcaster Joan Bakewell attempts to define the problem, saying, "It is a poverty of feeling that is to blame. People are growing up without knowing love, emotionally crippled themselves and hardened to the care of others. Such people are pitiable: they are the wretched of the Earth. Who is to reach out to them?... This week’s revelation from enclaves of misery in our midst cast a long shadow."

And of course from this long shadow comes, among others, knife carriers - people using blades as some kind of security blanket to protect themselves from dangerous, immoral broken communities that cannot help being bad.

At the same time, it is reprehensible and cringeable that a non-expert and inexperienced media bays for blood, calling for - in the Baby P case - child protection bosses to be sacked. They remind me of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. "Off with her head," bayed the Queen - just like the self-styled so-called expertise in the Press.

All the time - to give them their due - these experts and commentators try to articulate the problem, cast blame and press for recriminations. By doing so, they want to move nearer a solution - yet is this "solution" they seek truly possible with such ill-judged, knee-jerk reactions? Not really, I believe. What is needed perhaps now more than ever is great leadership - of a Winston Churchill ilk, methinks. Inexcusably, current leaders are lacking - they won't get past bureaucracies, establishments and others self-interest that stands in the way.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Knife crime - the Italian Mafia mentality is what needs to change

Knife (and gun) crime is about people willing to pick up a weapon and use it against another person or group. Reading about the Comorra organised crime syndicate highlights the terrible state of mind that a large portion of the world population can start to adopt over time.

Read more about Italy declaring war on the Camorra

Translating this to the UK, we might imagine now that this mentality is enjoying an inexorable rise among this country's hoodlums using weapons against others - in the first article there is evidence of the Camorra in Scotland and London. The mafia mentality, that desire to have power by being criminal and violent. Building a business base by criminal activity, not caring about the pain and misery caused to others by killing.

This is a thread we should keep an eye on - it's worrying that a large part of the population of an apparently civilised country like Italy can start to become an evil, violence-led, criminal-led force that threatens the law-abiding, moral and innocent. To me, it smacks of that hidden underworld that our armed forces and police are continually in the front line protecting us against. Scary.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Katy Perry, Karl Lagerfeld, Madonna use violence to promote their products...

Katy Perry apparently says the photo of her with a knife, designed to promote a harder edge for her image, was taken in 2005 when knife crime wasn't an issue.

Well, that's ok then. Knife promotion is fine when people aren't dying or being injured so much.

Stupid girl, or maybe it's stupid marketers thinking, as I've pointed out, any publicity is good publicity. Naive fools. Katy Perry needs to take a long, hard look at herself and work out what kind of person she wants to be and how to promote herself better from now on. Everyone deserves a second chance - trust she gets it right next.

This leads on to another celebrity type. Karl Lagerfeld (oh, and Madonna). The anti-violence charity MAMA (Mothers Against Murder and Aggression) contacted me and highlighted his idiocy. Take a look at the MAMA website and Karl Lagerfeld, with Madonna, promoting guns as fashion accessories.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Knife carriers have everything to lose

Hard to believe children as young as 11 years old carry knives for protection. At least the Government is trying to make the streets safer so youngsters don't feel they need knives - Tackling Knives action programme

Can't help thinking it's a drop in the ocean at the moment though. Here we are headed for recession - even more kids are likely to feel separate from society as they are unable to get jobs and aspire to something honest and worthwhile.

Somehow the message young people need to absorb and respond to is that a knife, and committing criminal acts with knives, isn't going anywhere - except a downward spiral of failure. Once young people cotton on to the fact that knife carriers are losers, maybe then campaigns to combat knife crime can progress. We live in hope, and determination - always.

Having said that, then you see people in the public eye (like George Osborne, the Tory shadow chancellor) sullying public life attending shady hospitality meetings that allude to his political party perhaps receiving illegal payments. If that's the type of person and life that young people are supposed to respect or look up to, well - it's perhaps no wonder they vote with knives. That's no excuse - but who wants to be like George Osborne, or a money-grabbing political party?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Join the knife crime gangs - buy a TK Maxx jacket!

It don't get much more stupid than this, eh? Get a FREE KNIFE when you buy a TK Maxx jacket. Only swear words seem to convey the anger, frustration, idiocy and whole heap of other furious words I'm struggling to spit out.

I can't help thinking TK Maxx did this for the publicity - which would be sickening... surely not? I only say that because it may not have escaped some warped PR or marketing manager's mind that 'any publicity is good publicity'.

Here we have the UK's most popular paper publicising a down market, cheap designer brand store. TK Maxx couldn't have paid for a bigger advert.

Shame on them is the most diplomatic way to describe my reaction. Wonder how many people they're going to help kill, maim or injure with this act of lunacy?

The call from me is "boycott TK Maxx" for this unbelievably low, underhand, cheap, gutter-level gimic. Unfortunately, the oxygen of publicity here has probably helped their sales, horrible to think.

For legal reasons, I'd better put in a comment - posted in The Sun - where they try to explain themselves and their support for knife crime...

It said: "T.K. Maxx supports and enforces all laws with regard to the sale of knives. We became aware that a branded coat on sale included a pocket penknife as a promotional gift.

"We removed the items swiftly from the supply chain. All store teams have been alerted to this and as a matter of urgent priority have removed all related items from shops."

W*****s for irresponsibly promoting use of knives, and associated violent crime.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

People's Marchers an inspiration - taking on society's ills...

Watching and reading news coverage of the People's March against knife crime was inspiring. There has been a transformation in attitudes to knife crime over a few years. We've called the establishment to account.

The police were justifying their work, saying those arrested with knives were being prosecuted; the prime minister was justifying himself, saying a clear message was being established that knife carrying will not be tolerated.

That march (see BBC knife crime peace march coverage), quite rightly, was full of angry, agitated people doing what's required.

With this blog, I've been trying to highlight social ills that are causing divisions, issues etc: not least violence, crime and a struggling, poor, unequal political and financial system.

I try to do something by publicising these problems: challenging the systems, people, ideas that produce them. What I liked about the People's March is it took the struggle to the streets, struggling to overcome the problems associated with knife crime by agitating for peace.

As we strive to be better citizens, we look to others’ interests rather than to our own; we look beyond our small world, which may enjoy satisfaction and fulfillment, to look out into a world where people suffer and die. Again, this march went beyond talk and became involved in action for the transformation of this country, of knife-carriers and stabbers.

I'm fed up with these politicians on gravy train careers, same with those banker, financial adviser types, and the 'aggressive employed'. They all seem focused on their own lives, giving little to aspire for the disadvantaged and struggling, those that dream of doing more. Think they help create a crime culture.

I wish I'd been among the marchers that day but one of the reasons I didn't go was not really having enough money to make the journey to London - my family needs food, accommodation and heating... as many of you know, economic times are tough. Still, that didn't stop me praying and imagining myself there. I tell you, I am anti-knife and gun crime and always will be... To all the marchers - well done. I'm with you, let's keep going.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

People's March Against Knife Crime

A couple of things I've finally got around to covering:

The People's March Against Knife Crime
(Facebook link for info)

After a very important meeting with Scotland Yard last week all the march details have been confirmed and are 100% correct.

20TH SEPT 2008.
Two marches one cause.

North march Caledonian Park form up 10.00 am.
Marching at 10.30.

South march Kennington Park form up 10.00am
Marching at 10.30.

The South march may start a few mins later than the north depending on numbers.

The two marches will then meet and enter into Hyde Park through the Queen Mother Gate where a rally will be held.

The est time of arrival at Hyde Park is 1pm- 1.30 pm for the rally to start at 2pm till 4pm.

If anyone wants to go straight to Hyde Park then please start to get there for 1 pm, there will be stewards directing you.


And the other thing is about stabbings in Chichester, West Sussex...

Sussex Police had said there wasn't a knife problem in this county - so, sure enough, you've guessed it... there's been a major stabbing fight (visit this link). I rest my case.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Met Police launch tv weapons campaign, Operation Blunt

The Metropolitan Police have launched Operation Blunt, a major TV anti-knife campaign. Full details and videos can be seen at the campaign's website - http://www.droptheweapons.org/

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thoughts on tackling violent deaths after weekend of murder

Upsetting and depressing to see headlines declaring this was a weekend of murder - five violent deaths.

I've added some more information and research proving how greed in banking and business is creating knife crime, poverty and societal devastation (visit this link). Got to stop the evil in these people; they think it's ok to do this sort of thing.

Not sure it's worth talking about something heartening when there's now much pain, grieving and distress following the weekend wave of murderous deaths - but it's worth thinking how solutions can be found to save lives. I was watching an air ambulance tv programme. Helicopter paramedics saving a road accident victim from a likely death. Ten minutes to hospital after some expert flying. When we put our minds to it, us humans can apply best thinking and resources to save lives.

Let's keep up the massive pressure, campaigning and outcry about all violent deaths - knife, gun, savage beatings, whatever... always live and work in hope, faith and whatever else we can muster - massive amounts of these are good and needed!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Knives, guns - what makes people do bad... evil stuff?

I've spent a little time on this knife blog barking about 'pure profit' motives and how 'aggressive' business needs to change because they have quite a responsibility helping create a decent society and world.

Most important to highlight that this is not the same as one human being picking up a knife and deciding to put it into someone else (or shooting another person). No-one must do that; they are wrong to do so. What their punishment must be, god only knows.

Off on another ramble now... what makes people be 'poison'; what makes people bully others; when threatened by, say, 'something or other', why do some people feel inferior and react so badly (like get out a knife)??? Trying to get insight into the way people do bad, evil stuff - might lead to some useful knowledge...

Here's to a good bank holiday weekend in the UK now

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

England footballers fight knife crime - David Beckham, David James and Rio Ferdinand speak out

All of England's football team have launched an anti-knife campaign called 'It Doesn't Have To Happen'. Beckham is convinced the unified voices of footballers can persuade young people to stop using and carrying blades.

View the full BBC story visiting this link

View the website - 'It Doesn't Have to Happen'

If you're on Bebo, more information is here about this knife crime campaign

(Seems the web presence has been having some url changes but one of these links will work)

Launching the campaign prior to the England friendly warm up game before the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers, Rio Ferdinand recalled the time he attended the same school as Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death.

He said youngsters needed more initiatives to 'get busy'.

England goalkeeper David James said young people would do well to get more involved in sport, to focus on sport rather than thinking carrying blades was at all helpful or effective in building better lives.

Personally, I still think solutions to this UK scourge are much more complex, maybe mainly hampered by society offering very little to many young people who are almost powerless to aspire to better things. And while companies and organisations continue to be driven virtually solely by profit, the moral compass and landscape gets lost.

And it's not only young people struggling - you only have to look around and practically the entire UK working population is being crippled by massive rises in the cost of living, by corporations and governments sucking money out of homes like rivers running dry.

How can we inspire future generations when the current one that's in charge can't control the country's or world economics? And they're supposed to be the smart ones! Hardly a breeding ground for better things at present, perhaps.

It is also a concern at times that many better off folk such as business people, politicians and cash-rich organisations (some churches?), and especially the super-rich (like England footballers, I should point out), can prefer to focus on their own careers, lives and politics, while letting deprivation (such as knife and gun crime) develop and fester somewhere - as long as it is not in their backyard.

Hope I don't sound too negative - just think it's important to air some truths, surface some thorny issues to try to focus the debate around problem areas, develop priorities - not that I pretend to best articulate and fix this... I'm just blogging. But if you're not part of the knife crime solution, you're probably part of the problem.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Deep insight into the UK's knife crime problems

Simon Jenkins is often an excellent commentator. He writes in The Times - he has just highlighted a stack of (government-related) reasons why people arm themselves with knives, namely because of the utter failure of politicians, especially at national level, to better equip this country's towns and cities for the future.

With urban regenerations systematically failing and way behind the rest of Europe, our politicians are just crap leaders - their egos, their preoccupation with status and careers blinds them to understanding what this country would do better without... quite simply, we would do better without them at the helm.

But I think we've got to vote for change, use the ballot box - and protest if possible. We really don't want to wait for things to collapse by themselves, for things to get worse, for extravagance, complacency and self-indulgence in (central) government to continue. We must bring these things to a head somehow - but how?

Here's Simon Jenkins article - viewable on The Times site too.

There is nothing so absurd as a British politician pretending to be provincial. Last week those not on holiday went berserk rubbishing a think tank report said to suggest that northern cities be cleansed of talent and their populations moved to the south.

David Cameron, the Tory leader, in Carlisle at the time, described a report he cannot have read as “insane, barmy” and, for good measure, “total rubbish”. John Prescott, the former Labour deputy leader, bellowed from Hull that it was “insulting and ignorant”. Vera Baird, a minister, suggested it showed “vindictive antinorthern thinking”. The study said no such thing, but any stick will do to beat the dog of geographical stereotype.

Earlier this month Gordon Brown was on the same bandwagon, proposing to hold cabinet meetings in the provinces. The idea was worthy of the emperor Bokassa. Brown clearly envisages overjoyed peasants streaming from their hovels, wiping coal dust and tears from their eyes with grubby handkerchiefs. His richly apparelled cabinet, with gun-toting police and lobby reporters in attendance, would pass by as the people cried, “Thank you, dear prime minister, for so recognising our existence with your presence.”

The never out-dafted Hazel Blears has plans for ministers to “fan out” to meet “local people” (a hitherto unmet group) and hold cabinet sessions “drawing on the conversations”. Her image consultants suggest the British Legion in Swindon, the town hall in Grimsby and the Victoria centre in Crewe, I kid you not, as gritty venues. Actors would presumably be stationed at key points before the cameras to shout, “Bah goom, Hazel, tha’s got a reel tooch o’ the north abaht ye.”

I never cease to marvel at the patience of provincial England towards the insufferable patronage of London. Politicians step off trains and pat children on the head, saying, “There, there, it is not too bad living in Barnsley, is it?” - as if Barnsley were recovering from the plague. The idea of a lumpen electorate that can be appeased with such pap as a “listening visit” is classic top-down paternalism. But since the Irish, Scots and Welsh have won a measure of self-government, the people of England are politically in play. Henry James never spoke more true than that “all England is a suburb of London”.

The Policy Exchange report on Cities Unlimited is thoughtful. It seeks to analyse the “predict-and-provide” planning, coupled with letting the market rip, that has dominated government policy for decades. New building has indeed drifted south and east, while huge amounts of money have been tipped into demolishing and rebuilding “new Jerusalems” in the north and west.

This rebuilding has been public-sector-led, largely for housing and more recently for retailing and warehousing. The glories of Victorian urbanism, which might have created exciting magnets of city renewal, were destroyed and replaced by fast-decaying blandness. Nor is this confined to the north: see Southampton, Bristol and Plymouth.

The report concludes that “the policy of regeneration has failed”. The north-south gap in wealth and population growth has widened, as has the earnings gulf between London and the rest of England. This is supported by an Office for National Statistics report in June that showed London’s gross value added per head as 50% above the national average.

The policy has imprisoned millions in characterless housing estates, many far from city centres, from which they cannot find jobs, other than government ones. No amount of romanticism, or the pockets of liveliness in conserved areas of Newcastle upon Tyne, Liverpool and Leeds, can conceal this fact. Provincial urban renewal has been the greatest single failure of domestic policy in half a century, comparing starkly with regeneration in continental Europe and America. Since the start of deindustrialisation, Britain’s cities have lagged behind those of France, Germany and Italy in prosperity, appearance, self-confidence and public order.

The chief reason is not economic geography - the obsolescence of cities built to look to the sea or the coal fields. Such places in Europe and America have been equally ill-sited but have adjusted. The reason for peculiar failure in Britain has been the emasculation of local leadership and its replacement with central government dirigisme. The only parallel is with socialist eastern Europe.

The death of civic pride in England, engineered by governments of both parties, has collapsed the enterprise culture on which renewal depends. Provincial administration has become dependent on one central agency after another, culminating in the costly candy-floss of regional development agencies.

These overpaid bureaucracies stand pathetic comparison with the elected mayors of Barcelona, Toulouse, Munich or Milan, whose renaissance in recent decades has been rooted, as the report says, “in local leadership being taken for granted, where the locality not the nation state determines priorities, makes decisions and takes responsibility”.

In Britain, anonymous city councillors must go cap in hand to obscure officials to plead for grants, “portraying their pitiful state that would be transformed if only central government were to fund a business park, high-speed train, new town centre or cultural quarter”. No political leadership, no risk or enterprise, emerges from such a process. Yet fear of being thought “unprovincial” is leading Cameron to recoil from his plan to abolish the regional development agencies.

London’s preeminence may diminish with the recession in financial services, but its proximity to the continent, size and cultural vitality will always make it the nation’s first city. At the same time the former industrial regions cannot be written off. Their revival needs elected mayors (so revivifying for London) and an independent tax base. This is especially the case given the other side of the report’s coin. The concentration of development in the southeast by offering it more land would consign yet more of rural Britain to concrete.

Anyone flying low over the southeast has an overwhelming sensation of the vulnerability of its green acres. Anyone flying over the north of Britain is equally aware of the quantity of derelict and unused land. Mile upon mile of the Midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire is industrial detritus. Were the free market a genuine one, these miles would be returned to farming. The emptying warehouses and hypermarkets would revert to countryside. But open space and greenery is no longer created, only destroyed.

That is why what is rightly called “town-and-country planning” exists. It is why the effort that has gone into the renewal of the urban Midlands and north cannot be wasted. The idea of more intensive development in the London region to allow its economy to boom is one thing, but rural Britain is becoming more desirable than urban. Rural land and house prices are rising, in the north as well as the south. Villages are sought by the wealthy, the telecommuter and the retired. That is why sacrificing the green belts anywhere to development would be crazy.

There is no evidence that the British people want such a sacrifice. They want the one thing government (and the opposition) refuses to give them: stability and pride in their community and the freedom and local taxes to govern it themselves.

More knife deaths - what to tell + teach the children?

More knife deaths this weekend - it's impossible to be unmoved (nor would we want to block out such emotions), even after years of writing this blog. In fact, to be honest, I'm always devastated by another killing or wounding - but it's a different scale to how it felt when Jacky Marshall died in my arms.

It's like there are two distinctions - one when you're involved in a stabbing or some kind of killing (perhaps this is the case in war too), and the other when you hear about it by news media, word of mouth, something like that. Very sad.

I was on holiday with my family last week. The kids club held a pirate fancy dress night and my two girls went straight for the eye patch, bandana - and plastic knife.

Remember, these were the two who were with my wife and I when knife-wielding killer Shane Freer rushed into the Chichester McDonalds and attacked Jacky.

So, they got these plastic knives and I found it unnerving as I examined quite an authentic looking fake blade. And kids were everywhere with 'em - pretend sword fighting, sneaky attacks, rolling on the floor.

I felt torn between wanting to stop it and then seeing this was just some fun play.

Now back at home, it does seem sinister that we let kids play this way. It's hardly fun to pretend to kill someone, yet kids do it all the time - war games, cowboys + indians, stuff they see on films etc.

But dramatic re-enaction can be a useful learning tool - though you need to debrief youngsters. My pirate fancy dress incident does highlight, I think, the importance of discussing knife and other weapon use with children at appropriate times.

It is wrong to kill or injure, except in self defence. And kids need to talk about that for it to sink in.

A friend of mine posted a comment to this blog - he doesn't allow his son to play with fake weapons, pointing out the issue is so serious that they are not things to be played with. Read his child knife crime post.

May eternal light shine upon the victims of violence this weekend - Connor Black (Manchester) and the 17-year-old Sri Lankan lad killed in Croydon (unnamed as I type this), and anyone else dying 'unnaturally' - such tragedies and accidents must be stopped, they are preventable.

And if anyone affected by knife crime reads this, do be reassured and comforted - if you can - that people are greatly concerned about this menace. There is much sorrow, frustration, unhappiness, but also determination, to try to stop this happening. From what I see now, much is underway to tackle a massive problem. I wish there was more I could say that could help you - but many of us do pray and press for change.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Business 'killers' - financial knife-type criminals at work every day...

There's no excuse for anyone hurting someone else, whether using knives, guns, fists - even poison tongues.

But business people, especially those at or near the top of the financial or wealth tree, need to realise the reponsibility they have to ensure a moral, accessible economic system that allows those in the poorer sections of society to aspire to better lives, to be able to do worthwhile work.

Instead, we can clearly see in the BBC article below how banks abuse their powerful place in society by an overt focus on profit at the expense of the society + customers they are supposed to serve.

It is crystal clear they primarily serve their own self-interest, their 'pure profit' over anything moral + human.

Here's the article - I've bold-ed the parts showing what a poor role model banks are compared to law-abiding, honest families and other people.

Looks like FSA leader Hector Sants is a man for the people - he seems like he can smell dodgy businessmen + right bankers (just as bad as knife crime stabbers in some ways)

Banks warned of economic worries

Banks should make plans based on the assumption the economic downturn could be as bad for them as the recession in the 1990s, the City watchdog has said.

The warning from FSA chief executive Hector Sants comes a year after the credit crunch officially began.

Mr Sants also told the BBC he had put pressure on most of the UK's big banks to raise billions in new capital.

That was so they would be robust enough to withstand the potentially severe financial pressures ahead, he said.

Pressure to raise capital

The recession and property market downturn of the early 1990s saw British banks suffer debilitating losses over an extended period.

On Friday it was reported that repossessions had risen sharply and that one bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, had posted the second-biggest loss in UK banking history.

In an interview with BBC business editor Robert Peston, Mr Sants was asked whether the difficulties for banks could be as bad as they were in the early 1990s, and whether losses on lending would continue to be a problem for up to three years.

He replied that he would expect banks "to plan on that type of assumption".

He said he had expressed his opinions "fairly forcibly" to banks that they needed to raise capital, so that they could be confident of weathering the economic downturn.

Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HBOS have between them raised GBP20bn of new equity capital.

The credit crunch began when banks stopped lending to one another, and to their customers, in vastly reduced quantity to previous years.

This was because for years they had been raising funds to lend to us by selling bonds backed by risky US home loans given to borrowers on low incomes or with poor credit records.

As interest rates in the US rose and these borrowers began to default in record numbers, "the world's investors worked out that sub-prime wasn't pure gold but something a lot nastier and smellier than that", our correspondent said.

"Suddenly the collateral the banks had been offering was not very valuable - in fact many people thought almost valueless, which made it that much harder for banks to raise money," he added.

Bank bonuses blamed

Mr Sants said part of the cause of the economic mess was that bankers had been rewarded for taking foolish risks.

And he warned that if banks continued to reward their employees for doing dangerous deals, the watchdog would make sure that banks and their shareholders would be penalised.

He said there would be "consequences" for banks that pay employees too much for doing imprudent deals.

He also said in future banks must give greater consideration to the
downside of the risks they take and make provisions for that to
prevent a situation like the current crisis from being repeated.

To make sure banks are less likely to violently react in a downturn, Mr Sants warned consumers would have to accept less access to credit in the boom times.

"We want to create an environment where the right amount of credit is available to consumers, but not too much," he added.

-----------------------------------------

Very interesting to see that it's not just me seeing how greedy bankers and business is causing major misery, knife crime, poverty - and quite frankly - devastation. Here's a couple of experts speaking out to the BBC (visit this link for more). It isn't right and the taxpayer (us!!) is picking up the bill for their excesses. I'm about to investigate joining that group - the Taxpayers Alliance - if they put up candidates for Parliament, I'll probably vote for them too:

BLAME THOSE CLEVER BANKERS

Professor Peter Morici of the University of Maryland has been an adviser to the US Congress and government.

Wizardry. Alchemy. Lead into gold. Are these the playthings only of medieval fools?

The credit crunch tells us perhaps not. The Holy Grail of medieval science was to find the formula to turn lead into gold.

And why not? Wealth without work. Everyone was for that, but we modern folks know better. Or do we?

Today, globalisation is driving down profit margins in making everything, from steel to software. If you make a profit, soon someone in China will make it begone.

But deal-making, putting companies together and taking them apart, financing it all, offers great rewards.

Then there are the risks. Making risks evaporate in the morning sun, or the shadows of Wall Street, seems to be where the wealth lies.

Enter our financial engineers. They don't deal in metals or megabytes, they deal in companies that make them.

Combining them, financing them, taking them apart, putting them together again. That's the stuff of modern fortunes.

But what of those risks? The engineers that assemble these deals say all the risks can be laid off on other engineers and their clients.

And by investing in each other, everyone's money will be safe. Profits without risk.

They even thought they could do that with sub-prime mortgages - home loans to people who really couldn't afford them.

They bought each other's debt and erased one another's risk by dealing with one another in a giant chain letter. Until someone realised that what they were trading wasn't worth a hill of beans.

The house of cards has collapsed, but were these guys the fools? Or do true wizards live on Wall Street?

Perhaps they do, because the engineers have escaped with their big paydays and bonuses, and central banks like the Federal Reserve and Bank of England are underwriting the tab to foist the bill on all of us - the taxpayers.

Who are the fools here? Perhaps you and me. The engineers have turned worthless paper into personal fortunes by sticking us with the tab.

BLAME THOSE GREEDY BANKERS

Robert Reich, of the University of California at Berkeley, is a former US labour secretary.

Some greed is necessary to keep capitalism going. But too much greed will bring it down.

Even Adam Smith, the father of economics, understood that capitalism requires some degree of trust.

Yet the greed that's taken over our banking system is undermining the trust of investors, who are necessary if there's going to be any money in the banking system to invest.

Here in America, the authorities are now chasing down investment bankers who recommended their giant hedge funds to investors, even when the bankers knew the funds were about to implode.

Greedy bankers like them have been running a giant con-game. They figure if they can persuade investors to buy something that's actually worth nothing, it might appear to be worth something, which lets them persuade others to buy even more, because - after all - by this time lots of investors are buying it.

And then when the bubble bursts and investors lose their shirts, the bankers keep their fat commissions and a percentage of the upside gains.

But what they've left out of the calculation is the trust needed next time a banker claims something's a good deal.

You see, trust is a precious commodity. And it's eroding fast - which is why the credit crunch continues.

Now, we've been here before: the late 1920s and an anything-goes banking system filled with bankers ready to sell securities to the biggest sucker to come along next.

Wealth then was as concentrated as it is today; debt piling up as high as it is today; greed as rampant as it is today.

And then what happened? The bubble of all bubbles burst on 21 October 1929, ushering in the Great Depression.

Franklin D Roosevelt told Americans they had nothing to fear but fear itself. But the fact was, the financial system had let them down - and they wouldn't trust it again for decades.

Greedy bankers beware.




So if you work for a bank and see bankers being rewarded for dangerous deals, report it to the FSA. Or better still ring Crimestoppers - let's get these greedy business people making life worse for the rest of us, and helping cause inner city deprivation - and knife crime.

They may not hold the knife but they are at least partly responsible for the reasons why crime happens and blades are in people's pockets. Bankers.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Gordon Brown: local communities must fight knife crime

Prime Minister Gordon Brown says local communities must influence +
help change minds to make carrying knives unacceptable,

I'm on my mobile so difficult to copy links easily - story is on BBC
news website...

mark.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Remembering lives lost, the real people killed by knife crime

Not quite sure but when thinking about knife crime today, I started half-singing: "Destruction of men in their prime... whose average age was 19".

Some of the lines in Paul Hardcastle's number evoke much emotion about wasted lives... over something many didn't understand or want to be part of.

Can't help thinking how similar is that feeling to lives lost to stabbings :-(

See full lyrics: 19 - Destruction of men in their prime.

And then the radio launched into that sunscreen tune, and that hit home much harder. Do you remember it (full lyrics are here)...

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99 (or 2008?)

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…

And when I heard these words this morning, I thought those precious victims of knifings can no longer apply suntan lotion - never will be able to now.

I will dispense this advice now. Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh never mind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked…

Their youth is gone, existing no more, destroyed by the blade of a knife or bullet of a gun...

And so this tune continues for people who are still alive, not realising the poignancy of such lyrics to lives gone and those who mourn and remember them...

You’re not as fat as you imagine. Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.


Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Stretch.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.


Get plenty of calcium.
Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary...


Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.


Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people

think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own...

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.


Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.


Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.


Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.


Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few, you should hold on.


Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.


Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Travel.


Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasise that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.


Respect your elders.


Don’t expect anyone else to support you.


Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.


Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.


Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.


But trust me on the sunscreen…


This is about lives that are (still being) lived, I suppose. How lucky we are to be alive. And if you didn't feel like crying just once reading that and thinking about the terrible and desolate waste, emptiness and waves of inexplicable sorrow that knife crime brings to so many lives, play the song on YouTube here.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Three key ideas to help solve knife crime problem

Reviewing and reflecting on the blade problem, there are at least three key ideas that I can see worth focusing on, worthy of serious investigation.
  • Main one is that the issue of knife crime is more about the criminals than the knives. Somehow we have to reach them, consistently, persistently, never give up on getting to them (via law enforcement, education, whatever.)
  • Second, an idea I can see has mileage is to manufacture blades without points, preferably with rounded, blunt tips. That way wounding could be minimised (as much as possible).
  • Thirdly, selling knives in shops via cabinets removes the need for time-consuming paperwork or registration / licensing schemes - yet is a viable, workable solution that all retail stores selling any kind of blade could adopt.
Interesting to think these could be real solutions - anyone out there who can help drive them forward? Do comment on this blog, or better still, badger politicians, shopkeepers and other retailers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Knife crime statistics and knife crime facts

'Knife crime statistics' and 'knife crime facts' are among the most popular keyphrases that people have searched for on the Internet during the recent blitz of media coverage following a spate of tragic attacks.

But searches for ‘knife crime’ were by far the highest. And certainly, my blog saw a high rise in numbers of people studying this blog - often for about half an hour at a time.

Most thought provoking story of the past few days has been about no prison sentences handed down for shops and stores selling knives to children in the past five years.

In an article in The Daily Telegraph, a range of new, up to date knife crime statistics are published after research by the Liberal Democrats. Click the link to study more blade stats info.

As the summer holidays and good weather have started, searches now seem to be dropping away. I kind of pray this continues - it probably means there are less killings and woundings happening. Sad state of affairs.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

National service for knife carriers (but not in the armed forces?)

I was thinking about the idea of national service at the start of the weekend and it occurred to me it would be a good idea for this to happen... but some kind of service that is non-armed forces. Imagine loads of angry youths disarmed and put to use to serve the public, instead of their own warped priorities.

Couple of pointers from the Sunday Times today:

Home Office statistics show a crime with knives happens every four minutes.

About a third of murders are committed with knives - a figure barely changed for decades. But the age of people carrying and using them has come down from 19-25 into mid-teens.

From surveys, three main reasons hoodlums carry blades:
  • For crime
  • For protection (85% say this)
  • Have to do it to belong to a gang
And the police - apparently all they'll be able to do is:
  • visible presence
  • education
  • consistent response
Read more from the Sunday Times interview with UK knife czar Alf Hitchcock.

Important then that society unites against knife carriers and makes an impression to drive down knife crime statistics to much safer levels, in tandem with police action. Come on, let's go do it...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Map of knife crime statistics across England + Wales
























'Blade Britain' - map of knife crimes in police force counties and areas across the UK; recorded blade crime statistics / figures (from the Daily Mail online).


Interesting to see that Sussex - a county that police claimed did not have a knife problem - records a total of 274 such crimes over a year. Bear in mind, I appeared on BBC radio this month to highlight that knives were being carried in Sussex. As well as reports I've had to my blog, these figures are also evidence that I was correct.

Monday, July 14, 2008

(Budding) killers + families targeted by Govt anti-knife crime initiative

Not a bad idea. Target 110,000 potentially murderous (?) families and their children. Think the Prime Minister is on to something here with his anti-knife crime initiative.

Important too he focused on the sufferings of devastated familes - their loss is irreplaceable and the pain cannot be put into words, probably ever.

Look closely at what he said to you out there who carry and wield knives:
  • Law enforcement is going to pursue you
  • Prosecution looks to be inevitable for you
  • You face severe punishment
  • Prison awaits you, else you'll be cleaning streets when you used to enjoy your reign of terror such as on Friday and Saturday nights.
If divine providence is with us, you'll be wearing orange overalls too. You should be seen as captured and clearing up a mess you helped create.

Makes you think how fortunate you are not to face execution, you knifing hoodlums.

Think we should watch and support Brown carry this lot through. I'm not sure if it's perfect but it's progressive, focused and unflinching.

The Tory view to round up everyone who carries a knife and imprison them doesn't seem practical. I would go back to a view that adults need to change too - but that's not to detract from how debating this matter does very little to help the families and friends of victims. I find it impossible to put into words - very little seems able to scratch the surface of grief those affected by fatal attacks are suffering.

You stupid stabbers... God help you. May those who you forced to mourn be comforted.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Knife crime - now the serious search for solutions

Latest knife crime statistics reveal there are now an average of sixty (60) serious knife attacks happening each day in the UK. But it seems the entire country is now debating how to tackle this menace - so that must be good.

The idea of a curfew - using legal steps to force young people to stay indoors, say, after 9pm - sounds appealing initially but I wonder if it is workable.

Parents poll backing curfews - Sunday Times front page lead

And Government measures will include, it is reported, so-called 'shock tactics' where criminals who use blades will be forced to visit people in hospital who have been injured by knife wounds. Seems a bit odd - stabber goes to hospital, sees bloodied victims (who won't love the experience, I imagine), immediately repents. Hmm - maybe it'll work for some but I suspect not for many others.

Listening to 'mature adults' debate this week, there's a common theme - that young people (and their families) are to blame, they need to develop a better moral compass.


I'm sure that could help, but that seems to be psychological transference - in part at least - to shift all responsibility onto young people and their parents.


It's no coincidence that much knife crime happens in the most poor parts of Britain. There is little for some of these people to work to achieve, especially in difficult economic times.


Who establishes the economic and business systems that provide, say, meaningful work and societal activities? The hallowed 'market forces', government programs and community groups are probably responsible for the bulk of them.


Well, to repeat what I've touched on at times in this blog, it is the adult world that is influencing these young people.


The massive marketing and sales machines of corporations, companies and government suck money out of households everywhere like a hoover, led by business and political leaders that pride themselves on high levels of aggression and competitiveness.


People end up feeling powerless against these monolithic money-sucking beasts. I imagine that's why the terrorists who felled New York's twin trade towers celebrated victory, finally delivering a massive message to a money-driven system they see as evil.


Corporations are about creating wealth with no moral, ethical or legal limits (do your own checks if you don't believe me); put most simply, the corporation's existence is about a pathological pursuit of profit and power. And governments across the globe have capitulated - all we, the public, have owned in the past is now privatised or will be, to be run by private for-profit enterprises.

No wonder the Christian Church (and other religions too) is attacked by business and governments - she seems to be the only organisation that can stand in the way of this use and exploitation of the human purely for profit. More in another post on this point.

Our society needs to take an investigative look at itself - how can downsizing (throwing people out of jobs), ceaseless, chaotic change in the world of work (the very place that should help achieve security) be celebrated as victories for democracy?

And let's not forget the credit squeeze carnage that's going on - what on earth is going to happen to all the people who are sub-prime mortgage defaulters? They'll be carrying knives next. And then there's the resultant massive price increases on mortgages in the UK that's coming... the hard-working, law-abiding mortgage payers are going to be supporting the whole darn economic system, while top bankers (rhymes with w...), economists and politicians enjoy huge salaries for creating a system that's collapsing. Ws indeed.


No wonder then this translates itself to the streets, where those without money, not welcome in the corporation set, find pathological ways to feel worth something by operating as some kind of 'power-crazed' knife carriers, gang members etc. There's little else they can feel involved with or in control of, is there? Maybe it's a macabrely more satisfying life, at least in the heat of the moment.


Thoughtful article by Jon Cruddas in the Sunday Mirror today about poverty, inequality, David Cameron and the Tories that highlights the societal problems this country faces:

"David Cameron went to a school where the fee alone is more than double what someone on the minimum wage gets for a year of graft.

"It's a lot easier to stay healthy and in work when you're born into that kind of money, so he should be a bit careful lecturing the rest of us. He has no real knowledge of generational poverty or poor public services that you have to rely on... or the numbing effects of a chronic lack of social mobility and real opportunity... nor the day-to-day grind and struggle to make ends meet...

"I don't buy the idea that people living on the minimum wage or less are there because they deserve it, while people like Cameron are rich because they tried harder... The Tory view is that you fend for yourself, and if you fall down, well, it's sad, but it's your own fault.

"I take the opposite view - we're stronger when we work together than we are on our own...


"Take family values for example.
Cameron says he's for them. But if you're a mum working 40-odd hours in a shop, you need the flexibility to take a few days off if your kid has stressful exams or is ill. A good parent wants to help their kid revise or get well again - but at the moment only parents with decent jobs and good wages can afford to take the time off... That's what real family values are about.

"Inequality is the fundamental issue. The richer someone is, the longer they are likely to live - it's poverty that's the real killer. Behind Cameron's repackaging of the Tories is the same old brutal right-wing dogma." Read more of this article


And I'm not saying don't vote Tory - Iain Duncan Smith made some good points today on Sky News. He heads up the Conservative focus on looking to solve social exclusion and poverty problems.

He said: "The short term is being tough on these kids... but the longer term is saying the communities they are coming from, where their whole set of values is so inverse, that the whole idea of working, the whole idea of responsibility, just doesn't exist.

"You have got to change all of that as well, so don't just attack them and want to put them in prison, we have actually got to start sorting out this dysfunctional lifestyle."

As I've indicated I don't think blaming others for their lifestyle is quite hitting the mark - I believe adult society has a part to play changing how it lives; less aggression in business, less road rage, less alcohol, less rudeness, less focus on profit.

And I'll point this out again... why should young people work at crap jobs that pay abysmal money providing little cash for leisure time use? No wonder they head for the cheap vodka at Tesco; most of the adults do that too. At present, many of us are working for greed-induced shareholders desperate for as much profit as possible while the average young person isn't going to be able to afford somewhere to live for a couple of decades these days, if at all. Why should many want to conform to the current system? As the injustice mounts, civil disobedience will surely develop - history teaches us this has always been the case.

This global society's drive for profit, especially the corporate-type empires, seems to be impoverishing many, making us little more than slaves to corporate - and goverment-led - money-making machines (and when I say government, I refer to the huge 30-50-plus per cent we pay in taxes, National Insurance, VAT etc).

I'm just trying to encourage broader thinking. We have to consider if this is the progress and systems we want for life on our planet. Me? I reckon we all want something better, we just don't know what it is or how to do it.

Bit of a Sunday afternoon meander and reflection on things; but - back to violent crime - I'll never defend those who use violence and weapons... but, all you with power and influence, it's not just 'young peoples fault' or the fault of their families.

What I reckon we can also say at this time is that knife crime has been a long time coming, and it's going to be a long time fixing it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tragic toll of four stabbing victims in 24 hours - July 11 + 12

STOP PRESS: the BBC website has just published the names of four victims killed by stabbings in the last 24 hours.

A tragic toll of four in a day!
And a fifth man
is in a critical state, fighting for his life, from stab wounds to his stomach and back. See Sky News coverage

For God's sake, let's stop this. All must work for solutions - unity is powerful. Speak up, make demands, criticise, be tireless - but do remember to take care of your energy levels. Never give in.

Ref: the BBC radio breakfast show interview I gave, I thought I'd post some of my notes that I prepared for it. I wasn't able to cover all of this in the short time available but it provides information about why this blog is set up and its objectives:

Notes - this blog was set up with three broad aims:

One – to be a living, breathing memorial to Jacky Marshall, a superviser from a McDonalds at Chichester Gate who was viciously and fatally stabbed one Saturday lunchtime in April 2005 in front of a packed restaurant.

My two daughters loved her. She was simply the best person I’ve ever known work in a restaurant, always attentive, chatty and friendly. She used to fuss over the girls, always giving them balloons and toys whenever we popped in for Happy Meals.

Two – to be a useful online resource, always on 24x7, packed with information and news for anyone interested in trying to stop this UK scourge, to try to make society safer.

I try to make it contemporary and sometimes a little bit controversial to generate views, and have aimed to carefully select online resources about knife crime to inform and help with the debate, as well as help people affected.

Wherever possible, I aim to more intelligently interpret knife crime developments, better than the sometimes time-pressed, soundbite style many of us can experience via the mainstream media.

Three – I place some focus on those that carry knives. These people seem to experience some power and control when they carry knives. I think it important that those carrying knives need to know it is not tolerated by our society - and that no-one thinks they are powerful in any way, rather - they are fools. There is no kudos or an ounce of credibility carrying a knife. It’s just plain stupid.

That said, these people are a danger to innocent people; they threaten our lives, so disarming them must be handled with care.

What I’d say to people hearing this is to visit the blog. I work in online and search marketing so have worked to ensure the blog is easy to find on the Internet – just go to Google or Yahoo and type in 'knife crime blog'.

Read a few posts and click on the various links to websites that I’ve placed there; then just think about what you could do. Then I’d say simply do something (anything) peaceful + positive to add to what is a massive groundswell out there against violent crime.
  • Perhaps offer comfort by writing to those affected or commenting on blogs
  • Report criminal acts to the police (anonymously if necessary via Crimestoppers)
  • Maybe you could find an opportunity to influence knife carriers through youth work
  • Just this week I came across a website that allows people to light virtual candles in memory of those who have died from knife, gun or related gang crime. Why not do that? Here’s the link to that site: 'Gone too soon' - and I've added it to the right nav area of this blog.
One thing I have noticed with the many stabbings and shootings is the mounting number of online website memorials.

The Internet is filled with poignant - and often overwhelmingly upsetting – tributes to the dead from friends and family of victims, as well as complete strangers moved to contribute their condolences and sympathy.

It’s quite obvious that such killings devastate the lives of the living. The deaths leave unimaginable emotional suffering from irreplaceable loss.
____________________

I just had a note thanking me for putting up a tribute video to a young lad called Martin Dinnegan, killed aged just 14.
____________________

What happened to Jacky, that frenzied stabbing, gives me the motivation to carry on with this. When I think back on that awful event, on how one human being can summon the will to stick a blade into someone else and kill them, it’s just plain wrong.

Such acts cause never-ending pain, shock and devastation to families, friends and whole communities. It's just got to be stopped.
____________________

How likely is it that the knife crime statistics can be reduced to low levels? I don't know - but unless we're part of the solutions, we're probably part of the problems.
____________________

I must emphasise that people mustn’t put themselves in danger; don't fight someone or groups who are armed with knives, guns or other weapons just because you are angry and want to fight back – admirable sentiment, but it’s not worth the risk to you.

Run away to live another day if you have to, get them in your sights in other ways, everyday where necessary, possible, and as time + life allows - write letters, articles, blog posts etc... the pen can be mightier than the sword.


BBC interview - looking for solutions to the knife crime menace

Knife crime blogger Mark Chapman was invited to BBC Broadcasting House in Brighton for the breakfast show to try to shine some light onto the weapons curse afflicting the UK.

Listen to the BBC knife crimes interview - click here for the mp3 file recording

Sitting opposite Mark was Southern Counties radio host Neil Pringle who, like most decent people in the country, was searching for answers that could lead to solutions to this mainly street crime-based problem.


The interview began with news that 18-year-old killer Aaron Aymer, from Wapping, East London, was starting a jail sentence for the murder of David Stunell (22) in Brighton a year ago - more here

Mark was introduced as a knife crimes writer journalist who started a blog after being deeply affected trying to help Jacky Marshall, a superviser at a McDonalds in Chichester, who was stabbed to death one Saturday lunchtime in front of children, parents and other fast food diners.


For more information, listen to the interview... And do study these blogs pages; there are many links to online resources about gun and knife crime including statistics information, insightful comments and thoughts focused on finding solutions, memorial websites - in fact, the list is becoming endless.

In the next post or two on this blog, I'm thinking to analyse UK and world society at large in an attempt to highlight the complex nature of trying to explain why young people use knives. It's easy to blame families, which I notice political leaders like David Cameron are quick to lay responsibility onto.

But I'm aiming to expand a view that much blame also lies with a UK (and global!) economic system supported by politicians (some, at least, on a gravy train-type career) that promotes greed, risk-taking, bullying and stabbing others in the back etc to obtain money and profit at any price.

Aggressive businessmen and women (and the 'aggressive employed' everywhere) need to wake up and smell the coffee that their styles of doing business are being reflected and emulated on the streets by some young people who are unable to obtain the trappings of wealth and prestige that the current economic system promotes as the type of success to aspire to. They are just demonstrating some less-than-savoury adult values and behaviours at street level.

I'm just listening to a Sky News piece where, err - how shall I describe him - backward-thinking Daily Express columnist Leo Mckinstry is advocating young people need National Service. Honestly, people pay much money to get Sky tv, you'd think they could find some intelligent people to put in front of a camera.

Let me be clear on Mckinstry's perspective... to stop killing, we line up aggressive young people to be killed. And not only that, we also put (presumably) many innocent, peace-loving young people who don't want to fight into a uniform with guns and knives.

What a stupid proposal - it's almost dangerous, irresponsible thinking and diverts us from finding proper, appropriate solutions. Two things come to mind initially - punishment is needed, as is work to prevent more deaths.

Interesting to see what Gordon Brown comes up with next week in his much-publicised measures to tackle the problem of knives, guns and violence. An instant solution? I think not. Let's give him (yet another) chance to do a good job as Prime Minister - we look forward to something great.


Anyway, more later on this blog - with a bit more evidence and careful thinking...

Friday, July 11, 2008

'Join Anti-Knife Campaign' plea from friend of stabbing victim Martin Dinnegan

A young person has contacted me to publicise a 'justice for victims' campaign to press the government to put killers behind bars for life. To put it simply, this youth and friends want life sentences to mean life, not a few years.

As a friend in mourning for the tragic death of Martin Dinnegan, this youth makes a very important point that, to be honest, I have felt too:

Quote from Martin's friend: "I have read many cases in which justice has not been served to the families of those victims left behind. Life sentences are becoming ridiculous, knife crime is becoming ridiculous, and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. Our country seems to be more interested in the public relations and problems of other countries rather than the problems of our country."

While some criminal teenagers carry knives, with nothing at all worth aspiring to, it seems, than sticking a pointed blade into another human being, the voice of law-abiding youth here seems to be clearly articulating systematic failure of the government, its politicians, civil servants - and employers too - to ensure a safe, just and fair society for all.

Please visit the anti-knife crime campaign in memory of Martin Dinnegan and Ben Kinsella - VOTE NOW to support or oppose the campaign.

And to try to promote the campaign further, please 'Digg It' by clicking here - life should mean LIFE.

One point is clear: our governors are failing to satisfactorily respond to the voice of the electorate. People who carry weapons - or much worse, use them to kill or maim - are not wanted in law-abiding society, period. THEY NEED TO BE REMOVED.

I'm not an advocate of capital punishment - we can hardly stand on higher moral ground than criminals where we lower ourselves to kill; we become almost as bad.

But a namby-pamby, cushy life in a cosy prison with all food + lodgings provided, as well as benefits paid for by hard-working taxpayers when they get out is, to be frank, unacceptable. A harder edge is required. Life's not easy for the law-abiding either, they should not be penalised.

Given the thousands of knife attacks each year - 60,000 according to current estimates - this is a very spectacular failure by our governors.

Elections come along fairly often, so we can use a peaceful, democratic vote to kick some politicians from office, but how do we influence civil servants in their ivory towers?

And employers carry responsibility for creating a work environment that's worth turning up for.

For instance, any company that fails to pay the minimum wage to young people deserves condemnation - and legal action... and that's just for starters, work-wise. Why would a young person turn up for a crap job that barely pays enough for a cup of coffee during leisure time? I'd take to the streets and protest too.

Anyway, don't hesitate - vote now with decent young people - keep adding your voice to the groundswell of so many against all types of knife, gun and violent crime.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

'Beat knife crime' - the London Evening Standard campaign

The Evening Standard has picked up my knife and violent crime blog post about Sal Idriss (see this post) organising a photographic exhibition to honour the 27 young people killed in London last year. Sal passed the blog post link to a contact there.

View the story: Sal's project to present devastated families through emotional photography

I'd not noticed until now the Standard's five-point 'beat knife crime' charter. Here's a summary of it here - seems well-focused, see what you think:

1. More targeted high-profile searches backed up by more police with scanners on the streets, on public transport and inside and outside schools, with targeted patrols on routes to and from schools.

2. Train children in “peer-to-peer mentoring” and use citizenship and personal, social and health education to teach the simple message: respect cannot be won at the point of a knife.

3. Prosecute everybody found with a knife or using it to the full extent of the law: no more police cautions and no more second chances.

4. Use the toughest possible sentences on knife criminals: end the slap on the wrist culture which lets offenders walk free.


5. Make prison work with compulsory therapy for young prisoners in which they come face-to-face with the consequences of their knife, gun and other violent crimes by meeting victims and the doctors who treated them.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Photography exhibition for families of knife + gun crime victims

An internationally acclaimed photographer has contacted me to discuss thoughtful plans for a memorial exhibition celebrating, honouring and remembering the lives of victims of violence - killed by knife, gun (and gang) crime.

In his own words, here’s Sal’s message, especially for the family, friends and anyone else connected and affected by fatal violent attacks in the year 2007.

Re: "FAMOUS FOR THE WRONG REASONS"
Exhibition: 27 December 2008

My name is Sal Idriss. My work is exhibited in the permanent collection of London's National Portrait Gallery and has featured on the covers the Guardian, The Times, GQ magazine, Mojo, and ES magazine. I write to you to invite you to participate in my latest photographic exhibition entitled "FAMOUS FOR THE WRONG REASONS", which is both the most ambitious and personal journey I have undertaken.

On December 27, 2007, my younger brother became the 27th young person to fall victim to knife and gun crime in Islington, Angel, and London. This devastating personal experience has heightened my awareness of the countless other families throughout London who, like my own, have witnessed the unfortunate loss of a loved one to senseless violence and criminality. By exposing the true impact of street crime on our communities and by putting real faces to generalized "victims".

My aim is to educate young people and use the emotional power of photography to deter those vulnerable to or already engaged in criminality. My intention is simply to present devastated families honestly. Not as names and numbers in the system, but as the families who are famous for the wrong reasons.

I plan an exhibition that highlights the families that were affected by the violence last year. A chance to grieve and honour the lives of those lost, including my brother. This will be a collective exhibition with a unique individualism as it explores the raw emotion and unique way in which different families mourn the loss of a loved one.

I plan on picking a location in each borough to project out portraits of the families affected, to humanise them.

I have facilitated photographic workshops with young people at Pyramid Youth Development Project (PYDP) and FBMF to create a portfolio of images for the exhibition for the National Portrait Gallery, Education Department on two photographic exhibitions, titled:

“Circling The Square” an exhibition about the history of the Trafalgar Square, 13 September 2003 - February 2004

“Local Heroes” an exhibition about 9/11 incident in 2001 and the exhibition was a year later in conjunction with Vanity Fair Magazine, USA, 2002

Participants: Ben Yiga, Thelma Lavery, Emanuel Ferris-Hue, and Travis Lewis.

To realize this project, my aims are:

* Camera film, development and exhibition prints
* Exhibition posters to advertise projection
* Video footage of the research
* Advertising - posters on London Buses, Bus stops, Train stations, etc
* Travel expenses to the locations of the families


Research:

1. To locate and have access to 27 families who lost a loved one to gang, gun, and knife crime in London last year
2. Spaces / locations in the 27 areas which are able to accommodate large crowds and the projection of large images, such as onto the side of a building or projection board
3. Press and publicity – access to national and local newspaper and magazine networks
4. Costs of producing a website to replicate the exhibition online
5. Contact with local youth worker volunteers and assistants to help with promotions before the opening date and the running of the exhibitions
6. Book publication / publishers for educational books with a DVD footage of the interviews of all the families

This is a free public event and it is my intention that this exhibition reaches the largest possible audience.

Here follows the tragic roll call from last year that Sal plans to record using his photographic talents:

Sal Idriss | F.F.T.W.R
Murdered Victims Families to be Photographed


1. Jan 1 - Stephen Boachie, 17 - Ghananian born A-level student stabbed to death on his way home in Barking. Hoped to study engineering at Birmingham University

2. Jan 19 - Dean Rashid Lahlou, 18 - Budding young businessman stabbed to death in Tottenham

3. Jan 24 - Jevon Henry, 18 - St Lucian born student stabbed to death of St John's Wood.

4. Feb 3 - James Andre Smartt-Ford, 16. Shot twice outside Streatham ice rink.

5. Feb 6 - Michael Dosunmu, 15 - Model pupil shot dead - two days after celebrating birthday - in case of mistaken identity in his bedroom by two intruders who burst into his Peckham home.

6. Feb 14 - Billy Cox, 15 - Shot dead in his bedroom at his Clapham home by a rival drugs gang.

7. Mar 14 - Kodjo Yenga, 16 - Chased up the road in Hammersmith by a young gang of youths wearing school blazers. The schoolboy was knifed in the heart and leg.

8. Mar 17 - Adam Regis, 15 - Promising sportsman and talented schoolboy and cousin of Olympic athlete John Regis. Stabbed to death in a late night attack while alone on a Plaistow street following a night out with girlfriend

9. April 6 - Paul Erhahon, 14 - Schoolboy stabbed fatally in the chest in Leytonstone.

10. May 18 - Dwaine Douglas, 18 - Stabbed to death during a street fight in Thornton Heath

11. June 12 - Danielle Johnson, 17 Bullied teenager stabbed and beaten in May 28 in Bounds Green. She died later in hospital on June of her injuries.

12. June 19 - Sian Simpson, 18 - Ambushed and stabbed to death in a clash between two groups of girls in Croydon.

13. June 23 - Ben Hitchcock, 16 - Schoolboy stabbed to death in Beckenham. Attacked by a group of gatecrashers who invaded a house party.

14. June 23 - Annaka Pinto, 16 – GCSE student shot dead after trying to calm down an argument in a Tottenham pub.

15. June 26 - Martin Dinnegan, 14 - Stabbed after being attacked by a gang in Holloway.

16. June 26 - Abu Shahin, 18 - Chased by a group of men and stabbed to death in Ilford.

17. July 26 - Abukar Mahamud, 16 - Shot fatally in the neck after being executed by boys on pedal bikes in Stockwell.

18. Aug 3 - Nathan Foster, 18 - Youth worker and equestrian shot dead trying defuse a row in Brixton.

19. Aug 30 - Mohammed Ahmed, 17 - Guinea born teenager was stabbed to death in the street in Newham.

20. Sept 16 - Edvin Johnson, 19 - Student stabbed in the leg after he was attacked on a stairwell in Camberwell.

21. Oct 7 - Rizwan Darbar, 17 - A-level student stabbed in chest for his mobile phone in West Ham Park.

22. Oct 14 - Philip Poru, 18

23. Nov 14 - Etem Celebi, 17

24. Nov 17 - Biendi "Bobby" Litambola, 17

25. Nov 30 - Jack Large, 14 - Schoolboy stabbed to death in Chigwell after getting involved in a fight

26. Dec 15 - David Nowak, 16, stabbed to death following street brawl in Somerford Grove Estate, Hackney.

27. Dec 27 - Nassirudeen Osawe, 16 - stabbed to death in Upper Street, Islington.

Sal's contact info:

W: www.sal-idriss.com
E: salidriss@gmail.com
T: +44 (0) 7981 229 549
T: +44 (0) 207 704 8219

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Step-by-step: the war on deadly weapons - knives and guns - today makes real progress

As the pressure wave of media focus on knife crime reaches a level appropriate to the destruction, harm and hurt that evil blades can wield, it is heartening to see the news headlines today.

Thousands of people cannot die or be attacked without a caring society taking action - and now we see a pretty significant milestone, probably.

When the Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (Sir Paul Stephenson) says knife crime is the top priority in London, anti-knife campaigners know they have made some real progress.

Read more here: The Times Online - Knife crime replacing terrorism as police focus

Sad that it seems quite a late response from such an important, senior level. Shame on them, perhaps. This is often endemic of bureaucracy and a dinosaur mentality in organisations such as the police, government and corporate companies. For ages it seems, they are paralysed to act properly for the common good. We deserve better for the (public) money spent keeping these people in jobs supposedly protecting and serving the public.

They need to change (that's another entire blog to be built another day).

But now we see those of influence - some with fancy titles and honours - being seen to be doing some right things... thank god.

Let's keep up the pressure - let's force, cajole, encourage etc the knife, gun and violent crime figures to plunge. Keep communicating - peaceably but firmly - for positive action; never give up - the lives of those gone before us deserve nothing less.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Knife crime death - YouTube video tribute

The knife crime landscape in the UK is a pretty tragic one. This cannot be more poignantly illustrated than a anonymous comment I've just added to this blog.

Think it's only fitting to highlight such an important message. It's about a 14-year-old lad - Martin Dinnegan - knifed to death in Islington, north London.

The message was a simple one: RIP Martin Dinnegan - with a link to his tribute video. You can now view a tribute to his life via this blog, using YouTube technology:



You can read more about Martin's case via Google search. This Martin Dinnegan article on the BBC website is probably a good summary of a very tragic knife crime. God bless, try to have a good night... it's not bad everywhere.

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