Young people lead knife crime debate

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As part of the county council’s ongoing commitment to encourage young people’s involvement in local democracy, a debate exploring knife crime in West Sussex was held at County Hall, Chichester.

West Sussex Youth Cabinet and Youth Parliament members joined council councillors, Sussex Police and MPs for the engagement event on Thursday 19 September 2019.

Informative talks from Sussex Police Superintendent Miles Ockwell, the Police & Crime Commissioner’s office and the council’s Youth Offending Service set the context. The meeting heard that knife-related incidents in Sussex remain low and strong multi-agency work is ongoing to prevent young people falling into violent crime.

Youth Cabinet members spoke passionately about the topic, some from personal experience, and highlighted important factors like mental health and the support available in schools.

Holly Thompson, 16, said: “We understand the issue is not as big as in London but we do need to stop it before it becomes a bigger problem here. Some young people do idolise the gang life and that is so dangerous.”

MPs Tim Loughton (East Worthing & Shoreham) and Jeremy Quin (Horsham) joined discussions around the role social media plays in spreading fear, the link with County Lines drug gangs and the pros and cons of increasing stop and search powers.

County Council Leader Louise Goldsmith said: “This debate was about engaging and listening to our young people because it is so important we understand how these issues affect their lives. No young person in the UK should live in fear, we want them to enjoy their lives and I am grateful to the Youth Cabinet for opening our eyes and making us think.”

Ellie Roberts, 18, West Sussex Youth Cabinet Chairman, said: “We are grateful to be given the opportunity to discuss this growing issue which affects the lives of young people in West Sussex and all over the country. We are committed to continuing to raise awareness of knife crime and the damage it causes.”

Paul Marshall, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “While the statistics across West Sussex are low, it’s clear that for some of our young people, fear around knife crime is a reality which causes them real concern. I thank the Youth Cabinet for bringing this to our attention so articulately.”

The Youth Cabinet and Youth Parliament are young people aged 11 to 18, elected to represent the views of young people in West Sussex.

 

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