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Youths: Give up knives or you'll end up dead too

PUBLISHED: 17:58 11 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:57 07 September 2010

RESIDENTS have welcomed the council s decision to develop an action plan to tackle knife crime after the stabbing of a teenager last month in Queen s Park. The senseless death of Amro Elbadawi has prompted council leader Sir Simon Milton

Susanna Wilkey

RESIDENTS have welcomed the council's decision to develop an action plan to tackle knife crime after the stabbing of a teenager last month in Queen's Park.

The senseless death of Amro Elbadawi has prompted council leader Sir Simon Milton to announce that Westminster Council is working on an action plan which will begin with a knife amnesty.

Roger Diamond, from Queen's Park, said: "I think a knife amnesty is a good idea. I have heard from others that they do work. Hopefully young people will give in their knives. It will help a little but it is not the complete answer - just a percentage of it.

"In my area, where this knifing happened last month, I think we need CCTV cameras to deter criminals.

"We have a problem with anti-social behaviour in this area and cameras I think would help.

"We also need more police on the streets because when they are there the problems seem to stop but as soon as they leave they come back again."

The council says it is committed to working with young people to send a clear message that carrying knives in Westminster will not be tolerated.

The community protection department and children's services teams are currently working with police to develop a plan of action.

MP Karen Buck welcomed the news. She said: "I am absolutely in favour of taking a strategic approach that involves a range of agencies - the council, the police and voluntary community organisations.

"We all recognise that, while crime is falling overall and violent crime is falling, we have a problem with young people.

"In the end, it all comes down to how we work with young people and bring about a change in behaviour.

"That means intensive work in schools trying to tackle anger management and this aggressive culture of respect.

"Young people have always fought and argued. But now some seem to have lost the ability to step back and stop it escalating to violence. That is where the problem lies.

"We need to do now for young people and parents of teenagers what we have been doing with Sure Start for our very young children - a whole family approach to young people's behaviour and dealing with the causes of this violence."

The council leader also says he has asked for an analysis of what Westminster Council is offering young people - looking at the types of activities provided - so it can do more.

Sir Simon said: "We want to harness the energy of our youth and to use their shock and anger at the death of Amro to send a positive signal that enough is enough and knife crime will not be tolerated.

"I was deeply saddened by Amro's death but the tragedy has made me all the more determined to continue our important work tackling family breakdown and really engage with our young people for the benefit of everyone in Westminster."

WHAT YOU THINK

Vil Lungha, 28

Bar manager

"I've heard of knife amnesties in the past, but I don't think many kids will just hand over their knives willingly. They should be doing more in schools to get kids to give up knives. It's never something I've been frightened of personally."

Barnaby Edwards, 31, Salesman

"I see quite a lot of crime in this area, like people getting assaulted and harassed. I don't worry about anything as serious as knife crime though. Knife amnesties have been happening, but they haven't helped things yet."

susanna.wilkey@hamhigh.co.uk

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