NATIONAL: Gang members see knife crime as an ‘inevitable’ part of life

Young people in gangs are becoming desensitised to knife crime. Photo posed by a model  IMAGE: Katie Collins/PA Wire B2180101247155319A
Young people in gangs are becoming desensitised to knife crime. Photo posed by a model IMAGE: Katie Collins/PA Wire B2180101247155319A
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YOUNG people are becoming ‘increasingly desensitised’ by knife crime and consider fatal consequences to be an inevitability of life, a prominent charity has warned.

Patrick Green, manager of the Ben Kinsella Trust, said a heightened sense of loyalty among teenage gang members has resulted in an ambivalence towards the potential consequences.

The warning comes in the wake of two murders in 24 hours in south London.

Mr Green told the Press Association: ‘With young people who are offending or are on the cusp of offending, we’re seeing a hardening of attitudes around knife crime.

‘There is an inevitability for them that this is a part of life - it’s an occupational hazard.

‘There is a sense that they are becoming increasingly desensitised when it comes to knife crime - there is little or no thought going towards the consequences.

‘And for 14 to 17 year olds, particularly boys, loyalty is everything. Some are prepared to go to prison for 19 years for crime, no problem, as long as they have defended their friend’s honour.

‘There is no thought process for some of them. They believe it is quite possible that they will be stabbed or will stab. That is a big worry.’

Police this week confirmed the deaths of Jermaine Goupall, a 15-year-old fatally stabbed in the leg in Thornton Heath, south London, and 19-year-old Daniel Namanga, who suffered a stab wound to the chest and died in Peckham, south-east London.

Their deaths brought the number of teenagers fatally stabbed or shot in the capital this year to 15.

Mr Green said increased police patrols only offered a short-term and unsustainable solution to the problem, and added that early intervention coupled with positive role models such as heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua were key to getting young people out of crime.

He said: ‘When we’re working with boys, they talk about people like Joshua - that’s the name we keep hearing.

‘They see what he’s done, he’s made a good life for himself and he’s worked very hard to get to that stage.

‘They like him, respect him, look up to him. We want more of that, we want people to see young people making a success of their lives the same way he has.

‘The girls also have positive role models - pop stars, people in the media.

‘But a lot of it is also about early intervention - we want conversations in schools, people talking about the consequences of knife crime and seeing there is an alternative. There doesn’t have to be an inevitability to this.’

The Ben Kinsella Trust was set up by former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, whose 16-year-old brother was knifed to death after he had been to a north London bar with friends to celebrate the end of their GCSE exams in June 2008.