Young politicians call for action to stop further fatal stabbings in Sheffield

Kate Hardy, member of Youth Parliament for Sheffield east
Kate Hardy, member of Youth Parliament for Sheffield east

Young politicians have called on the Government to take action to stop further adolescents been fatally stabbed or seriously injured in Sheffield.

Members of the Youth Parliament in Sheffield felt there is a direct link between cuts to youth services and the increase in violent crime, particularly knife crime, and called on the cuts to be reversed.

They said youth crime and gang culture is the top issue that needs to be tackled in Sheffield after two teenagers were stabbed to death in as many days in May as part of a wave of violent crime across the city.

They highlighted the issue at the UK Youth Parliament annual conference and are pressing for it to become a national campaign

Kate Hardy, member of Youth Parliament for Sheffield East, raised a motion calling on the government to take greater action on tackling youth crime and gang culture.

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She said: "In recent months the surge in violent crimes committed by young people has become more than apparent and seems to have affected many.

"I feel there’s a direct correlation between the cuts to youth services and the increase in violent acts, particularly knife crimes, among young people and said cuts urgently need to be reversed.

"Over the past three years over 600 youth centres have been closed across the UK and an 11 per cent increase in knife crime among young people seems to be the repercussion.

"This is also apparent as there has been a 10 per cent decrease in knife crime among adults.

"The government needs to take immediate action in order to stop further unnecessary deaths of Sheffield youth.”

Ryan Jowle, aged 19, died in hospital in the early hours of Wednesday, May 23, following reports he had been stabbed on Tannery Close, Woodhouse at around 11.10pm on Tuesday, May 22.

Frank Mvila Kiongaze, 22, of Morland Road, Gleadless, has been charged with his murder.

A day later, Samuel Baker, aged 15, was stabbed on May 24 and died in hospital later that evening. A 15-year-old boy has been charged with murder.

A 16-year-old boy was stabbed outside the Players Lounge, Yew Lane, Ecclesfield, just after midnight on Saturday, June 16 into Sunday, June 17.

Kate was pleased the motion was passed and will be added to the 2018-19 national UK Youth Parliament manifesto, and could become one of the campaigns for next year.

"I’m thrilled to have the motion passed, at the annual sitting, as I feel it is something that has been neglected by the government for many years now," she said.

"The cuts to youth services are having a direct impact on violent crime among young people and it’s surreal to think that this issue hadn’t been raised sooner.

"I can only hope that this motion passing is one of the first steps towards a safer and brighter future for our young people."

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Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner, said the key to stemming the rising tide of violence in South Yorkshire is agencies working together to dismantle gangs and prevent the next generation from becoming embroiled.

He said an increase in violent crime in South Yorkshire over recent months mirrors a national trend.

Speaking last month, Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh said cuts to police funding have led to an increase in violent crime.

She said that years of cuts to pay and other resources have led to damaged police morale, a loss of 2,000 officers in South Yorkshire and contributed to the recent rise in violent crime which has claimed lives in Sheffield.

In Sheffield, two fathers have taken a fresh tactic to try to stem the rising tide of violence.

Andy Gibb and James Swallow-Gaunt recently launched the Don't Be a Tool campaign, which combines self-defence lessons and business mentoring for budding entrepreneurs with more traditional education about the consequences of carrying a blade after being appalled by the number of young people being stabbed on Britain's streets.

They hope it will help young people break free from the grip of gang culture.

Other issues selected by the city's MYPs to raise at the conference included mental health and more time to study GCSE courses.

The mental health policy motion called for increased provision of mental health services specifically for young people, making them accessible, free and age appropriate.

There are also calls for common mental health issues like anxiety and depression to be included on the compulsory curriculum.

Luke Bassett, deputy member of Youth Parliament, who went to the annual sitting, said: "The UK Youth Parliament annual conference is where elected MYPs meet from across the country to represent their constituents and vote on national policy.

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"It was refreshing to meet and hear from young people with a wide range of views and experiences, and I was particularly pleased that we passed a motion on ensuring their is parity between mental and physical healthcare, which has been law for years but never enforced.

"I would hope more young people become involved in youth voice to stand up for their communities and to have so many amazing experiences.”

Sapha Habib, MYP for Sheffield East, said: "The annual sitting this year was so rich of opinions and diverse with the people there.

"Standing up for the young people of the east of Sheffield was an honour and I hope I can better the lives of them in some way.”