Young campaigners urge Boris Johnson to make tackling knife crime 'top priority'

8 August 2019, 11:01 | Updated: 8 August 2019, 11:27

Young people with first-hand experience of the trauma caused by violence with weapons have delivered a letter to Boris Johnson demanding he makes tackling knife crime a "top priority".

Six of them arrived in Downing Street to present the demand, along with a 12-point manifesto on what they think would make the streets safer.

The news comes after official figures showed knife crime in England and Wales hit a record high in 2018/19, up 8% on the previous year.

A policeman is also recovering in hospital after being stabbed with a machete in east London at around midnight on Thursday.

In the letter delivered today, the youngsters said that "more and more of our generation are still dying" and that "more needs to be done as soon as possible".

The manifesto includes calls to tackle what the group believe are the underlying causes of violent crime, such as a lack of housing, youth services and jobs.

It also suggests more community police officers should be recruited to build relationships in neighbourhoods, as well as blocking gangs using social media to recruit vulnerable young people.

Campaigner Zak Hall, from Redbridge in east London, claimed some felt being drawn into knife crime was a "new reality".

"It needs to stop, it's so dangerous. It's really scary, it's horrible," he said.

The 24-year-old added both his brothers were victims of knife crime and one of his friends was murdered last year.

Labour MP Sarah Jones, chair of the parliamentary group on tackling knife crime, said Mr Johnson had to "be clear this will be both a national and personal priority.

"The response to this emergency must be led from the very top, and the voice of young people must be at the forefront," she added.

"Mr Johnson has suggested that knife crime can be solved simply by increasing stop and search.

"But the solutions proposed by young people today show he needs to think much bigger. I hope he listens and agrees to meet them in person."

Police recorded more than 43,000 incidents involving knives or sharp objects in the year to March, according to official statistics.

The Home Office said it is investing more than £220m in projects that "steer young people away from crime".

A department spokesman said: "This government will not stand by while more young lives are lost - we are determined to crack down on the scourge of knife crime."