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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Knife crime and murder groups unite to help Wales

The MAMAA charity - Mothers Against Murder and Aggression - is launching a MAMAA group for Wales tomorrow at the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff with other groups working to prevent knife crime among young people.

MAMAA was set up after the murder of James Bulger in 1993. MAMAA has supported over 600 families bereaved through murder, and continues to offer support to them, and the many more families that join this ever growing list.

MAMAA works tirelessly in prevention measures and raising weapons awareness, going into schools and YOIs talking to young people about Victim Awareness and the dangers and consequences of carrying weapons.

They are on Home Office panels, police advisory panels and are often asked to act in an advisory capacity.

MAMMA has been jointly responsible for changing four laws in this country, with the aim of making the burden of losing a loved one through an act of murder, easier for the family left behind. They say there is still much to do.

MAMMA is a charity and rely on donations to be able to carry out our work, and welcome anything you can do to help.

If you need to talk to someone or need help and advice, please go to their website -

Here's a message from the Wales group organiser Dee Edwards:

"Dee thanks all the families of murder victims for help with pictures etc for launch of MAMAA Wales tomorrow at Welsh Assembly Cardiff.

"Thank you all for your help and the messages of support. I am not only using pictures of knife crime victims or only young people, or recent murders. We are highlighting the fact that hundreds of people are murdered every year, of all ages and in many different ways and the loss of one life affects hundreds of other people."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

UK retailers to take knives off streets in campaign

I keep meaning to mention some sterling knife crime campaigning action by 21 retailers, including Asda, Sainsbury and Tesco which seems to have had minimal publicity. Details on programme to cut numbers of knives on the streets:
  • Knives will not be placed on open display.
  • Signs about banning knife sales to teenagers are to be placed in stores.
  • Under 18s buying knives are to be monitored.
  • Information sharing is to be carried out with police.
  • Theft prevention measures are to be more rigorously imposed to stop blades falling into the hands of young people.
  • Reminders will be placed at tills for staff.
  • Internet sales of knives to children to be tackled.
These steps are being put in place because the law requires adults to accompany youngsters when buying knives. This, I understand from a Guardian knife crime article, is a result of the change of the law in October 2007 (although I'm not entirely clear what the law actually is from this article).

Gang culture is to be tackled too, outlawing gang colours and gang members associating with each other, and restrictions on travelling into areas they consider to be their territory. I wonder if this can work effectively though!

Appropriate to mention here too that e-Bay is cracking down on knife sale auctions after a BBC Watchdog investigation revealed a shocking display of law-breaking through the auction site.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Mothers Against Violence North East - Stabbing video and group info, links

Theresa Cave, organiser of Mothers Against Violence North East (MAV) - whose son Chris was stabbed to death in 2003 - has asked me to point people at her anti-violence group and some related links and video content.

First, here's her 'Stop the Stabbings' video, produced for the UK government's Home Office:

Join the Mothers Against Violence North East Facebook group.

Also, I'm adding MAVNE to the resource section of this blog.

Here's the note from Theresa:

"Hi Mark, just had a quick look on your blog page. I found it to be very good, don't know how I haven't seen it before. My name's Theresa Cave (Mothers against Violence North East) and I wondered if you would add us to your page.

"Please take a look at the groups page and other groups I have also gone too. I have campaigned against knife crime since 2003 when I lost my son to the knife aged 17.

"It is a long hard fight which I feel needs more attention now more than ever although it has dropped ever so slightly of late in this area. I would like to know more about your work if it is possible and would like to invite you to see the campaign video that I did for the Home Office in the 'It Doesnt Have To Happen' campaign last year.

"The video is on YouTube Home Office site under 'Stop the Stabbings'. I also did the radio ad that is out now nationally.

"I feel very deeply on the subject and would welcome any advice / help you can offer me. I work around with youth in schools, colleges and uni and also have talked in attendance centres and the likes.

"If you know of any youth groups / organisations that would like me to visit them please let me know as distance to me is not an issue but getting the word across is a big one. Thanks for your time - hope to hear from you - bye, Theresa Cave."

And for your info, here's my reply. If anyone else is interested in posting information about their groups here, feel free to contact me:

"Hi Theresa - I'm just posting some info about your group on my blog - Do add a link to the blog from your site - it all helps get the word round etc.

"It is always upsetting when people get in touch about the death of a loved one from knife crime or other violence. I'm deeply sorry you lost Chris to this knife scourge we seem to be plagued with.

"I started this blog as a memorial to Jacky Marshall, a McDonalds manager I went to help when she was fatally stabbed on a Saturday lunchtime at Chichester. I also hoped - and still work to achieve - that the site could develop into a useful vehicle for effecting positive change in a UK culture seemingly obsessed by violence, at least at times.

"My time is limited and I do what I can. It's a gradual, drip, drip, drip approach. Personally, I think the campaign work you describe is excellent - by pressing on the way you have been is all about being part of 'the solution'. Don't wear yourself out, remember to conserve your energy as you chip away.

"As I come across people, groups, news, networks, initiatives etc I add the information to this blog. Keep an eye on it - sign up to regular emails in the box on the right hand side of the blog. I'll certainly point people in your direction, as and when.

"My mum's family are all from the north east - I know Redcar quite well and my Gran lives in Staithes, near Whitby! Small world! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

"Best wishes, Mark."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Knife crime - text a stabber, Calzaghe + UK children report

Knife crime hasn't been at the top of the media agenda for that long. When I started this blog almost three years ago, coverage was minimal (you may be surprised to know). Now, Google is full of knife crime issues and reporting.

This is terrific progress - observing the media spotlight being shined into all areas of the problem ensures the knife, gun and related violent crime debate is at the centre of things.

Thought I would highlight three key stories of the moment:

  • This one deserves endorsement - Shop a stabber with mobile phone texting. Imagine... passing on details of knife carriers with a simple SMS text. This was first covered on this blog early last year (see Crimestoppers post). It's starting to take off on a bigger scale now. Come on everyone, get texting!

  • Boxer Joe Calzaghe is urging children to turn away from knife crime. Another celebrity figure joins the (peaceful) fight to try to stop youngsters using blades on UK streets.

  • Finally, this blog has never diverted from the belief that there must be some societal change - not just a simple focus on campaigning to get knives out of criminals hands. Thought-provoking then that an insightful report highlights the issues that children face struggling to grow up into an adult society that marginalises young people, leaving some with the feeling that picking up a knife is the only way to achieve some control over their lives.

  • Selfish pursuit of success threatens children in the UK - this report highlights that children are being damaged by the individualist and self-centred society they are forced to grow up in. As well as problems with family life such as broken homes and growing up with lone parents (and even advertising and alcohol), the Children's Society study singles out the adult pursuit of selfish ambition as a key factor that harms young people.