Bristol

Bristol teenager calls for knife action in parliament speech

Knife Crime
Image caption Shakur Grant chanted support not sorrow outside City Hall in Bristol earlier this month.

A teenager has used a speech in parliament to call for tougher action on tackling knife crime in Bristol.

Shakur Grant, who is a member of the city's Youth Parliament, has made a speech in the House of Commons.

This followed a protest he organised to "pressure" Bristol City Council to recognise knife crime as a problem.

The council said it has a team looking "specifically at how we can tackle youth violence and gang crime in the city."

Shakur said in the House of Commons: "We need focus groups that help people who are put in stop and search situations. Being a young black boy myself, I have not appreciated the amount of times I have been stopped and searched."

Shakur wants the police and the council to work together to implement a number of "weapon drop off boxes" for young people living in the city.

He said these boxes would help young people who may be thinking of using knives to decide against it.

"There are teens dying and mothers crying, we need to make sure there is support not sorrow for these people that are hurt," he added.

His appearance comes at the same time that three major Bristol cases involving weapons are in court.

The number of possession of weapons offences carried out by 18 and under has increased from 37 in 2018 to 44 in 2019, according to Avon and Somerset Police crime data, and the number of public order offences has risen from 27 to 34 in the same period.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cullen said: "I know recent incidents involving young people and knives have made the headlines and people are rightly concerned about this. I want to reassure people these are mostly isolated incidents and the majority of young people don't carry a knife.

"Some of the increase can be attributed to Operation Remedy and the fact we now have a dedicated resource of officers enforcing the law around knife possession and catching more people with a weapon before they have had a chance to use it."

Deputy mayor Asher Craig added: "The majority of these types of incidents in Bristol are related to domestic violence cases and adult crime but although youth numbers are small in comparison, even one incident is too many."

Image caption Abdirahman Sayed Ali wants to run for the next Member of Youth Parliament

Shakur organised a protest in Bristol on December 10, which involved about 40 people aged between 13-15, who took time out of school, to help highlight the issue.

He said: "Knife crime has been at the top of the agenda alongside global warming and that shows how much of a problem it is and many lives have been taken by it."

A larger protest is due to be organised in March 2020.

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