A statement from Brooke Kinsella MBE following the recent surge of knife related murders in London
In the last six days, five young men haven’t made it home to their families and never will again.
While we all get into the spirit of the festive season, five families will be looking to try and get through the horror that is the first Christmas without their loved ones. They will be struggling to comprehend how they will get through the rest of their lives.
These five families in London join countless others across the nation. My family are 10 years on in this process and my heart breaks for every single family that joins us in this living nightmare.
Before I lost my 16 year old brother Ben in 2008 I was guilty of thinking knife crime only happened in certain areas to people who lived a certain lifestyle. But it can happen anywhere to anyone.
My brother was proof of this – he simply went out one night and never came home. I am constantly being asked the question, ‘How do we fix this?’ Yet I am starting to ask myself, ‘Can we fix this?’
Here’s what I know. No child is born holding a knife. It is a learned behaviour. Therefore we must start with educating all young people that carrying, and using, a knife is not acceptable.
Not for protection, not for posture, not for any reason at all. Prevention is almost certainly better than cure and early intervention is vital.
Heartbreakingly, experts say children are now most at risk while walking home from school. And school is where we must begin.
Many schools say ‘we don’t have that problem here’ – I say, please don’t wait until you have that problem. Make sure that if you ever sadly do, that you are prepared. That your young people are informed. That they can make the right choices and avoid the horrific consequences of making the wrong ones.
On the streets, the mentality seems to be: 'As long as it’s not my mum crying', but one day it may well be your mum, because you are behind bars or in a coffin.
Many young people don’t see a long-term future for themselves so why would they care about anybody else’s future? We must speak to them. Ask them why this is happening. Ask them what we have to do to make them feel safe again and break this horrific, violent cycle of death and destruction.
It seems impossible I know. But it isn’t. Scotland's community-based approach, which provides young men with mentoring and education as a way out of crime, has shown it can be done.
We must follow their lead and throw everything we can at this. More money, more resources, more preventive work, more youth work, more opportunities for young people, more police, tougher sentences, stronger laws – more at every single level.
There has been a lot of talk by politicians and others about how to tackle knife crime. The time for talking is over, now there must be action. But we too must recognise to really tackle knife crime then all of us – young people, teachers, parents, communities, politicians, police – have do our bit.
With knife crime now at its highest for over a decade, grass-root communities and charities like The Ben Kinsella Trust who are trying so hard to tackle it, often find that the funding remains a significant challenge.
There isn’t one magical answer or a quick fix – it’ll take time, it’ll take long term investment, it’ll take acceptance of the magnitude of this problem.
But violence is not inevitable, it can be stopped, so let’s start making the necessary changes to stop this heinous crime happening to someone else’s son, someone else’s brother.
Brooke Kinsella MBE