Carrying A Knife Does Not Make You Safer: Former Gang Member

9 March 2019, 11:30 | Updated: 9 March 2019, 11:32

A former gang member gives a chilling account on how being part of a group gave him a sense of belonging and purpose.

Jermaine Lawlor, who is now a rapper and founder of Voice 4 Youth Against Violence said that he was 12-years-old when he first joined a gang - forming from what was just a group of friends.

Speaking to Matt Frei, he said: "I didn't join any gang to begin with, it was just a place where I felt I belonged. A place I had a sense of purpose and direction and really in essence it was just my friends."

"You had a sense you had to carry a knife because of feeling unsafe and the unpredictable situations that would arise that could mean your life is in danger, because ultimately if you get into an altercation and the other person has a knife and you don't, there's a chance you'll be stabbed.

"But what we're finding and what young people don't realise, you're more in danger of being stabbed with your own knife.

"It doesn't make you safer, it puts your life in more danger."

Mr Lawlor also said that trust between the police and communities needs to be found.

He said: "Trust is something you've got to earn.

"The police have to reach out more, there has to be some common ground that communities also have to reach out, but I feel that the communities need to be made to feel that they're part of society."

"Some of these young men have got various issues, some have mental health issues, some have anger issues, and I think there needs to be more training around relationships."

Matt said: "And that starts at home?"

Mr Lawlor replied: "Most definitely, but it doesn't just start at home, it starts at school, in communities, at football clubs, sport centres, gyms, sweet shops. It starts everywhere."