January 19, 2024 society

Youth backs Idris Elba’s call to tackle knife crime. ‘Increasing policing is not a solution’

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Idris Elba's 'Knives Down' feat. DB Maz

Screenshot: YouTube

Young people in Oxford not only heard about the Don’t Stop Your Future campaign launched by actor Idris Elba, but recognise the need for better measures against the culture of violence among the youth.

Asked by Harbingers’ Magazine, the Home Office spokesperson insisted that “the UK has some of the toughest laws in the world to tackle knife crime.”

Elliane Andam, a “beautiful” 15-year-old cheerleader, studied at the Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon, South London. On September 27, 2023, on her way to school, she was stabbed multiple times with a ‘zombie knife’ by a 17 year-old boy now awaiting trial. Elliane died at the scene.

Her death has not yet been included in the crime dataset from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which assembles data from police forces in England and Wales (excluding Cornwall and Devon).

According to the ONS, in the year ending June 2023, there were almost 51,000 ‘serious offences involving a knife’ and 245 homicides involving a knife in England and Wales.

British actor and musician Idris Elba aims at limiting the number of victims by opening a Don’t Stop Your Future (DSYF) website and social media channels to attract the attention of young people and decision makers.

“I don’t speak as an entertainer, I speak as a society member, I speak as a parent, I speak as a taxpayer. I speak as someone that has empathy for young people dying needlessly,” Elba explained in an interview for The Guardian.

 

 

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A post shared by Idris Elba (@idriselba)

 

On January 8, Elba appeared in front of the palace of Westminster. Behind him were dozens of pieces of clothing. Each one of them symbolises one teenage victim of knife violence.

That was the beginning, which was supposed to show the British government to take action. Did it provoke anything?

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The Home Office responded to Harbingers’ questions on what new measures the UK government plans to tackle knife violence.

The spokesperson said: “The UK has some of the toughest laws in the world to tackle knife crime, with bans on zombie and cyclone knives already in place and work under way to extend this to include zombie-style machetes.”

“We will not hesitate to do more to keep our streets safe,” they added, referring to plans on increasing prison sentences for anyone caught with a knife.

Harbingers’ Magazine also felt it was important to speak with young people on the subject. Everyone interviewed in Oxford on the subject of knife crime had heard about Idris Elba’s campaign, and backed his claim that the UK government is not doing enough to tackle the problem.

Finn, aged 20, said: “I’ve never carried a knife. Some people, where I used to go to school, carried knives but I don’t really think that they used them. I think it was a bit of, like, a masculinity thing.”

He added: “People were getting into year nine or ten, and they were starting to sell weed and shit, and they wanted to seem hard, so they’d carry a knife.”

Finn agrees that the government is inactive on the subject. “I think the issue is a symptom of a much wider problem. If you cut all the funding to youth clubs and cut funding to schools, then people will want to f**k around and not really do anything. I feel like it’s a symptom of austerity. And I don’t think the government is doing anything to change it rather than increasing policing, which is not really a solution, it’s sort of a plaster. It’s a poverty thing, and it’s a masculinity problem.”

He was, however, quite critical of Elba’s focus on London. “I think there is a weird amount of focus put on London, compared to other places in the UK that are more deprived and less gentrified. The murder rate in London was relatively low compared to places like Glasgow or smaller villages.”

Finn is not the only one who criticised the government. Sofie, 18, said: “A lot of it seems to be down to independent campaigns and stuff. I don’t see much from the government, what I see are independent campaigns like Idris Elba’s, not really government-issued stuff.”

She added that she doesn’t know anyone carrying the knife. “I think if you’re into these sort of circles. If you don’t hang around those sort of people, you don’t see much of it.”

The last person that we spoke to was 19 year-old Emilia, who reads law in Oxford. She said: “Among young men in my area, there is a sort of romanticisation of criminality and violence. There is a lot of drug crime in my area and from what I’ve heard, people carried knives in my area. I don’t know if that’s necessarily because they feel the need to or it’s a result of, again, that romanticisation of that kind of imagery, of violence and tough masculinity.”

 

You can read more about the Don’t Stop Your Future campaign here

Written by:

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Klara Hammudeh

Journalist

Warsaw, Poland

Born in 2008 in Warsaw, Poland, Klara joined Harbingers’ Magazine to cover international affairs, crime and music.

In the future, she plans to study ‘psychology, international politics, or criminology‘, preferably in the United States.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, dancing, listening to music and exploring the realm of pop culture, with a particular focus on how Broadway and West End create musical adaptations of classic Disney stories.

Edited by:

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Sofiya Tkachenko

former Editor-in-chief

Kyiv, Ukraine | Vienna, Austria

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