Knife crime: Prince's Trust says one in four young people feel unsafe where they live
19 May 2019, 23:57 | Updated: 20 May 2019, 04:54
Knife crime and gang culture has left a quarter of young people feeling unsafe where they live, according to research given exclusively to Sky News.
One in four 16 to 25-year-olds surveyed by the Prince's Trust said they feel increasingly unsafe because of the rise in youth violence, and that figure is closer to a third in London.
Two in five young people said that news about rising violent crime makes them worry for their safety, but nearly half said it misrepresents them and their friends.
The trust, which supports young people to improve their lives and fulfil their potential, is now stepping up its efforts to target the underlying issues, following calls from Prince Charles, the trust's founder, and Prince Harry to find solutions.
In December Prince Charles and Prince Harry hosted a knife crime summit at Clarence House. At the event Prince Charles said: "There must be better ways if we're going to prevent all these appalling disasters and tragedies happening to so many people's families. This is a thing that seems unacceptable frankly."
The research, based on an online survey of 2,162 young people from across the UK, also found that more than two-thirds think people are reacting to what is happening in their home life, with 45% claiming there are not enough alternative activities available.
When asked what could help reduce levels of youth violence, 71% said stable employment opportunities, along with more positive role models and more education on the consequences.
Sky News spoke to Tyrone Kanodereka, Joseph Brennan and Keelan Johnson, all 18 years old, who have just completed the trust's Team programme, a 12-week intensive course that helps to guide them into employment or back into education.
Talking about why young people are drawn to gangs, Tyrone said: "We're not being supported in what we actually want to do and sometimes that's the reason why teenagers aren't sure of their future. If you're in that sort of lifestyle, you always have to look behind you, always have to say 'I need to do something quickly or otherwise I might actually lose my life'."
Joseph said: "People I used to hang around with growing up, you know were the kind of people who carry knives, or they had friends or family members who've been stabbed or who were in gangs. If they'd found another outlet for feeling like they had status, feeling like they were important or feeling like they had something to do to fill their time, to make money, to make a contribution, to feel like they're actually a part of the world around them, then they wouldn't have gone towards that."
Keelan believes that many are drawn by the idea of easy money.
"They see a 9 to 5 job and think what's the point in doing that when I could make a certain amount of money in a quick amount of time. You get a lot of money from selling drugs and stuff like that so it seems like the better option, but then in the long-term it's not... it's not the better option."
Four years ago Gideon Buabeng was stabbed 14 times in one attack, just as he was trying to get his life back on track. He now works with the Prince's Trust and mentors young gang members.
He said: "We are the future and we're living in a day and age that no one has experienced before so you know we need to be finding out what's really happening in young people's minds.
"The fact that the Prince's Trust are doubling their efforts and they want to look into it is great, it's needed for the survival of young people."
The trust is now increasing its work in cities including Birmingham, Manchester and London. It includes more employment programmes, a focus on activities including music, football and boxing classes to improve confidence, a new partnership with the Metropolitan Police in London, and increasing their work with children between the ages of 11 and 19 to help identify sooner those at risk of being impacted by, or getting involved in, serious violence.