At the public meeting on Gun and Knife Crime, organised by Hackney Labour Ethnic Minority Forum, on 19th May, Kofo David read out a main question for the panel to answer, and Janette Collins, who runs the CRIB project, opened up with some challenging statements. She said we need to work together on this issue – in reality, not on paper. She recalled that years ago we held community festivals at Downs Park and Clissold Park and stressed the need to recreate those and to run intergenerational projects to break down the barriers between young and old. She pointed out that it’s not just young people who are involved: knife crime is committed by a lot of adults. Young people are actually a small minority in the whole thing. She concluded by asking: Where is our community?
Two members of the council spoke, Deputy Mayor, Anntoinette Bramble and Councillor Caroline Selman, Cabinet lead for crime and community safety. Caroline said there was a need to try and maximise our joint skills, to work together as community and council to find the most constructive solutions. She talked about various efforts to talk with young people in Hackney like the youth panel at Hackney Wick, and get their views, although some seem scared to speak out. She mentioned Hackney Young Futures, which is to be set up – a way in which the Council will work with young people, to help them shape their environment including their opportunities.
Leroy Logan said that it seemed things were going backwards to a pre-Lawrence era. He identified that cuts to policing have damaged the situation and called for a serious look at the way resources are used and aimed at the target group. He asked the police to remember to treat everyone with respect – next day they may need them to be a witness to a crime. He said trust is a big issue for young people and asked how do we offset the easy opportunities on the street where you get money for carrying out drug and violent activities? Wealth distribution is also part of the problem – it’s a disgrace with all the poverty and increasing use of foodbanks. This is having its effect on all parts of society. Leroy concluded by arguing that we’re going not to solve this with politicians, councillors, or public sector, or police. We need to work in a co-ordinated way – as members of the public because we care and not because it’s politically expedient to do so.