Academics and policing figureheads lead DMU students in a discussion on combating UK knife crime

A host of expert academics, policing figureheads and university students delivered a series of panel discussions with law students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) last week, to discuss the pressing issue of knife crime.

The event featured two panel discussions and a workshop aiming to educate students on the issue and encourage them to take action and think up new solutions.

knife crime

From left to right: Jessica Hill (Law LLB Student, Vice-Chair of Street Law Society), Melica Martin (Law Lecturer, Creator of Black Law Society and Event Organiser), and Christopher Inglis (Law LLB Student and Chair of Street Law Society)

The panels featured several guest speakers - including Craig Pinkney; an urban youth specialist with over 15 years’ experience in roles including an outreach worker and gang exit strategist, who aims to bridge the gap between academia and the streets.

Mr Pinkney, who is also a lecturer at the University College Birmingham , said: “We talk about this concept of knife crime like it is a new phenomenon but there is over 60 years of literature in university about why people carry knives; we need to know what this is saying if we want be part of the action.

The issue of knife crime, while not new, is a growing one with crime statistic figures indicating that not only has total knife crime increased rapidly in England and Wales since 2014 but knife-related homicides peaked in 2018, reaching the highest recorded figure since 1946.

Mr Pinkney said: “We have to start asking new questions and start thinking about what therapeutic intervention looks like and how it meets the needs of different young people; rather than have this one shoe fits all kind of mentality."

The event, which was organised by DMU lecturer Melica Martin, was helped by students from both the Black Law Society and Street Law Society at the university, some of which appeared alongside guests on the panel.

Melica, a law lecturer and creator of the Black Law Society at DMU, said: “The event we have put on has been an eye opener for students – the majority did not even know about the law.

Earlier this year the new Offensive Weapons Act 2019 received Royal Assent brining in two new offences, tougher measures to help strengthen police response and making it illegal to possess dangerous weapons even in private.

Melica said: “We hope that in the future we can have more people engage in what we are doing and actually make a difference; not just have another conversation.”

Jessica Hill, a Law LLB (Hons) student and Vice-Chair of the Street Law Society at DMU who featured on the panel, said: “We want to deal with issues that are happening on the streets, such as knife crime, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to start that off.

“I think this event gave students the opportunity to come up with their own solutions or maybe think of the reasons why this is happening and how we can tackle it as a community.”
Posted on Tuesday 12th November 2019

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