Carrying a knife does not protect you and can have deadly consequences. This was the message to young people from Junior Smart, founder of our SOS Project, at Drop the Knife in Streatham, South London on 6 June.
The event, organised by Crimestoppers and backed by the Sunday Mirror, was the first of a series across the UK designed to get local communities talking and working together to tackle knife crime. Hosted by ITV London Presenter Ria Chatterjee, also on the panel was Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, DCS Kevin Southworth, Head of Command Trident, Andy Tudworth, Head of Operations at Crimestoppers and Sheldon Thomas from Gangsline.
“I’m working for young people to give them a voice where they might not be heard,” said Junior. “This is why SOS works with those most vulnerable to exploitation and grooming from gangs. By giving these young people the intensive, tailored support they need and dispelling the myths that surround carrying a weapon we can help stop this deadly, destructive cycle.
SOS helps young people in the criminal justice system and those at risk to make better lifestyle choices. It offers a mix of practical and emotional support from professionally trained ex-offenders who have direct experience of the issues facing the young people they help. SOS is a flexible, holistic service which put the needs of the client at the heart of its work.
“Recent statistics from the Metropolitan Police show there were around 9,000 knife-related incidents over the past year and 12 young people tragically lost their lives. But we need to understand that every stabbing is a potential murder and a life lost dependent on the circumstances.”