Youngsters are ‘not being heard’ over violent crime

Lorraine Jones was among the community leaders, politicians, police and young people taking part in a Sky News live television debate following a recent spate of stabbings in London.

Speaking from the Dwaynamics boxing gym, set up in honour of her son Dwayne Simpson, who was killed in 2014 while trying to protect his friend, she said it was high time grassroots organisations received effective support from the Government.

“The cries of the youth are not being heard to the magnitude that is needed,” she told Sky News.

“Right now, it’s not about blame, it’s about supporting the grassroots work that is located within our communities.”

Stop Our Kids Being Killed On Our Streets campaigner Stefan Brown echoed the sentiment.

He said “the community has got to do it ourselves” because “the MPs and Government (are) not listening to the real people, the people who are doing the real work”.

He also branded the renewed response from authorities to violent crime as “rubbish”, before urging the Government to focus on funding grassroots community groups.

Taking part in the debate in Brixton, south London, former gang member Elijah Mochia said the stop and search approach to policing violent crime “isn’t helping”.

He called for more investment in projects that can help young people.

“Young people are scared, they’re traumatised, they’re going through things they don’t even understand,” he added.

“We need to stop young people picking up the knives in the first place.”

Imarni Robinson, 16, said it was vital to “open up people’s eyes to a young person’s perspective”.

And Mya Phillips, 17, said the violence in London “always has you on edge”.

Labour MP Sarah Jones said it was up to politicians “at this crisis point” to give young people what they want.

“This is the moment where we listen to young people and we do what they tell us to do,” she said.

Former Tory MP for Enfield Nick de Bois said the debate was about “empowering” communities already dealing with violent crime amid the “dreadful” spate of deaths in the capital this year.

“The challenge for us now is to seize the moment of public interest and concern,” he said, before calling for a “comprehensive approach” to the issue.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Hewitt said there was a need for “everyone to listen more”, adding that he did not agree that officers were “not listening”.

“This problem is not going on everywhere, it’s going on in certain communities and we have got to collectively listen to what these communities are saying,” he said.

The debate comes after Home Secretary Amber Rudd vowed to pump £40m into tackling violent crime.

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