Knife crime event at Coram brings young people and professionals together to find solutions

Published: Thursday 26th September 2019

Over 100 young people, campaigners, professionals and Coram staff came together at Coram’s ‘Knife Crime Question Time’ to share ideas and expertise to find solutions to combating the knife crime epidemic.

The audience heard contributions from a range of professionals as well as a youth panel, who responded to questions on areas including the effectiveness of stop and search, the potential for a public health solution to knife crime, and the part played by the media in shaping the debate. The evening, co-hosted by Coram and  Doughty Street Chambers,  included performances from the young people of Rap Club, a project formed to engage  young people from challenging circumstances and tell their stories through music and performance.

“What happens in the future depends on us. I am not in this field because I believe change isn’t possible. For every negative story I hear about young people, I see a young person who is engaged, training, making it!” - Junior Smart

The panel, chaired by Simon Israel, Channel 4 News senior home affairs correspondent, and was made up of:

  • Ria Chatterjee, Journalist, ITV London News
  • Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health
  • Junior Smart, Founder, SOS Project at St. Giles Trust;
  • Sir David Spiegelhalter, Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge;
  • Lesley Watts, Chief Executive, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

On the youth panel were: Tya Cunningham, a member of Rap Club, Maisha Sumah, a domestic violence advocate; and Jemima Viner, of Coram International.

“There has to be trust on both sides between police and young people. We have to know they won’t abuse their authority. The way police approach young people is important. Without being soft, if they are calm and explain what they are doing, young people are more likely to feel that maybe this person can help me”. - Tya Cunningham

Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent, Coram’s Director of Operations, said: “Coram’s purpose since 1739 has been the delivery of care and support to the children who need it. We decided to host this event because it is not in our nature to stand by. We feel that our credibility as a voice for children and young people enables us to bring together all those with a part to play in delivering practical solutions.”

“Following on from this event we will report back to all participants with a summary and a plan of action that we will develop and share with all those with a part to play in reducing knife crime. We thank all the panel and attendees for the commitment they have shown tonight to working with us.”

Summing up the evening, Sir David Spiegelhalter said: “I have learnt so much from being here at Coram this evening. Everyone should be exposed to the insights and passion the young people have shown here tonight - then maybe this becomes an issue that does become a vote winner and that gets the attention it deserves”.

“The question is how do we better the relationship between young people and police officers? There is a disparity between what the authorities are saying and what young people are saying on the ground.” - Ria Chatterjee

Highlights from the event can be seen here:

Read Coram’s briefing papers on the knife crime issue, covering young people’s views, what the data shows and how a public health approach would work below.

Youth knife crime - what does “taking a public health approach” mean?

Knife Crime Briefing - Dr Jeff Mesie

Young People's Views on Knife Crime