The Reader: If we want to beat knife crime we must stop postcode wars

Victim: tributes to Abdikarim Hassan, who died on April 10 (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images): Getty Images

MONDAY’S fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old in Forest Gate shows that the scourge of knife crime remains with us [“Teenager who wanted to be a lawyer ambushed and stabbed to death by gang in two cars”, April 17]. While the debate on how to stop knife crime will inevitably centre on policing, we need to look beyond this if we truly want to resolve it.

Over the past difficult weeks I have spoken to youth and community workers who are labouring on the streets to calm tensions, stop reprisals and divert young people away from violence. The feedback from these front-line workers is that we have got to do more to change not just young people’s attitudes, but the environments that underpin them. This isn’t just about more youth work. It is about us as a society breaking the barriers that leave young people feeling isolated, alienated and easy prey for drug dealers and radicalisers.

The public health approach that has proved successful in US cities and in Glasgow illustrates many of the measures needed to address these issues. But we must also stop the postcode wars. These not only serve to limit young people’s ability to travel freely but also impede their aspirations and stop them breaking free of their environments to achieve their ambitions.
Patrick Green
CEO, Ben Kinsella Trust

EDITOR'S REPLY

Dear Patrick

Thanks so much for your letter and highlighting the brilliant work of youth and community workers. They are too often an unsung part of the fight against violent crime. Often in the media we focus too much on one side of the story and not enough on the good work to prevent tragedies.

On a personal note, I agree that the public health model is the way to go forward. I also know that most parties are signed up to it. Certainly Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Met chief, Cressida Dick, have pledged support.

There are also many brilliant local charity initiatives tackling issues such as postcode wars, though sometimes there needs to be more central support for these projects. However, Glasgow was smaller than London and had different problems and there needs to be an overall lead to make it work pan London, which may be a challenge with a city this size. One possibility being considered is a borough by borough approach. But it takes time — Glasgow took 10 years — and money.

Justin Davenport, Crime Editor

The Windrush scandal has brought shame on the Government

THE worst aspect of the Windrush question is that it seems the Government was ready to start deporting these people — it is hard to believe that our leaders would deny citizenship to people who a previous government had invited here. We are turning into a very unpleasant country if cruelty on the part of those in power has become expected and accepted, and it was right of Theresa May to apologise to Caribbean leaders when she met them this week.

If those who refuse to oppose this agenda won’t examine their own consciences, they might at least try to imagine how they themselves would feel to suffer at the hands of empowered racists, homophobes and those who dislike the poor — if morality makes no difference, perhaps self-interest will.

Those that would have Little England will have also to live in it.
Ishmael Skyes

London deserves a day without cars

It’s time for London to hold a car-free day to help us understand what we want our streets to be like. Car-free days occur in capital cities all over the planet, from Jakarta to Brussels and Caracas.

Several days already see swathes of the road network without cars — the Notting Hill Carnival, the London Marathon and royal jubilees among them — but why does it require a special event? Can’t we experiment with life without cars without it requiring a major public event?

Nearly 8,000 people agree and have signed a petition to the Mayor calling for the first London Car-Free Day to be held in conjunction with World Car-Free Day on September 22. Now, it’s up to the Mayor and Transport for London to decide if car-free streets should remain a thing only for parallel universes.
Marco Picardi

The PM was right to act over Syria

I DISAGREE with your correspondent Julie Partridge [Letters, April 17], — the bombing of Syria by the US, UK and France was justified. Theresa May had every right not to consult parliament because of royal prerogative, a prime ministerial power allowing her to act on a “suo motu” basis.

These countries were compelled to bypass the UN because Russia has been blocking meaningful resolutions at UN Security Council meetings for the past seven years. I feel certain that diplomatic options were fully exhausted prior to taking military action.

The UK, US and France had the right to act as an “international policeman” because, as Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Muhammed Hussain

If only more spoke out like Macron

PRESIDENT Macron offered a passionate defence of Europe and a clear and honest assessment of Brexit when he addressed MEPs on Tuesday [“MEPs on their feet to laud Macron’s vision”, April 17].

It was a timely reminder that it is not our European friends who are making us embark on this great exercise in national self-harm, and they would be glad if we were to think again.

Macron also spoke convincingly of the need to embrace European sovereignty, with all members taking responsibility for the EU’s successes and its failings.

Listening in the chamber, I could not help but think what a huge shame it was that more of our own politicians had not articulated these arguments with the same passion.
Seb Dance
MEP for London

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