The father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor will give an impassioned appeal to pupils in Brent not to carry knives at a special event at Alperton Community School on Friday 20 October.
Richard Taylor will address Year 10 pupils at the Growing Safer, Growing Stronger event, which will see the launch of a new initiative by Brent’s Crime Reduction Partnership aimed at protecting young people in the borough.
The Partnership, made up of Brent Council, Brent Police and a range of other public sector organisations, is introducing the Comedy School to secondary schools across the borough.
This will involve a fortnight of performances and workshops with secondary school pupils in November, aimed at teaching them the potential consequences of carrying knives and urging them not to engage in anti-social behaviour.
The Comedy School will be giving a short performance and holding a short workshop with the Year 10 pupils during the event, which will also feature talks by Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Mark Toland from Brent Police, and Brent Council’s Chief Executive Gareth Daniel.
Statistics show that 20 per cent of victims of knife crimes in Brent between April 2004 and March 2006 were between five and 17 years old (247 out of 1,248). Almost a quarter of knife crime suspects in the same period were described as being between five and 17 (480 out of 2019). However, police believe that the figures are higher because victims tend to round ages up to 20 or 25.
Gareth Daniel said: “The statistics make clear that some young people in our borough are carrying knives. This might be because they want to gain respect from their peers or it might be because they want to carry a weapon for self-defence.
“We could do one of two things in response. We could pretend there isn’t a problem, ignore the issue and simply hope it goes away. Or we can face up to reality and actively address this problem.
“That is why we are holding this event and introducing the Comedy School project. We want to send out a clear message to our young people that by carrying a knife, they are in danger of throwing away their life.
“This is just one element of a much wider crime reduction programme run by Brent’s Crime Reduction Partnership. We know we have much more work to do, but we are determined to ensure that children in this borough can grow up in a safe and nurturing environment.”
Chief Superintendent Mark Toland added: “Brent Police are working extremely hard with schools and colleges to raise awareness about the dangers of carrying knives.
“There is a common misconception, particularly with the young, that everyone is walking around in possession of a knife so many young people feel they have to carry one to protect themselves. However, the reality is that few people actually carry knives. It is not cool to carry a knife and those that do
are just as likely to be injured themselves.
“The Comedy School is one of the many initiatives that the Partnership is using to educate young people on the damage carrying a knife can cause. I urge the community to help us drive down knife crime and to make Brent a safer place for all who live and work here.”