As featured in Beach Media magazines
Written by Cori Josias
I was at home trawling through Facebook when I read about the stabbing near the Mossy Well, a pub my two sons frequent. This was after two stabbings within the same month.
I posed the question “Good people of Muswell Hill,….what can we do?” on a Muswell Hill social media page and got a flurry of political responses. While those are crucial to the long term solution, I wondered what we – as a community of ordinary citizens – could do NOW. I started a Facebook group “Stop Knife Crime in Muswell Hill” and within an hour there were about 100 members. It has since grown. The purpose is to take grassroots action rather than wait for political solutions.
On 10 June we held a community meeting attended by 48 local parents, teachers, health workers, councillors, police, and those who work directly with children getting caught up in local knife crime.
It was immediately clear that muggings – with or without the threat or sight of a knife – are under-reported. Children and parents are scared from fear of reprisal and wonder if reporting a crime will make a difference. My own son told me six months after the event that he’d been threatened by someone claiming to carry a knife last December while walking down the Broadway in the early afternoon. A friend who bumped into him, excited to see him, interrupted the mugging.
Sargeant Leon Christodoulou and PC Jonathan Eldered made it clear they need a full set of statistics on what is actually happening to be able to add to their resources on the streets. Any incident should be reported, ideally as a crime but if anonymity is needed, by calling Crimestoppers. Even if an arrest is not made, intelligence gathered may help a future case.
We discussed working with local shop keepers to create ‘Safe Havens’ for children to walk into if they feel threatened. Similar campaigns have been used in other boroughs. A sub-group from the 10 June meeting is reconvening in early July to work out how to implement this.
Tales of adults intervening have been shared:
A young adult, someone’s son, was approached by a group of youths on the Broadway. Suddenly out of nowhere, a woman stepped up and said, “How’s your mother?” The group disbanded. The woman could see he was in trouble. She hadn’t a clue who his mother was.
Another young male who was helped by a couple outside in their garden when they realised what was happening, and let him into their home pretending they were his parents. They then took him home.
But it’s not just about helping make our streets safer. Our group must also focus on diverting those who might become perpetrators of crime towards more positive behaviours.
Mick Watson from StreetwiseKids said it is vital for us to go out and meet with these troubled kids and listen to what they have to say. We mustn’t treat them as outcasts. Many want to get out of the life they find themselves in. As a direct result of the meeting on 10th June, Mick is now running a Community Bike Program that will allow all the community to bring their bikes along and they will be shown them how to repair and service them free of charge. This initiative will run every Tues 15.30-17.30 at the Middle Lane Methodist Church. In addition, from 18.00-19.00 Streetwise will also be running boxing for fitness and Mindfulness Class on the same days and place Tues.
There will be a small charge for the boxing sessions which will be £10 for up to a family of 4 or £7 if only one child was to attend we are looking to involve the whole family with this training and the money raised goes towards supporting the Bike Program.
Mick stressed the importance of local parents coming together to set up local groups. These need to engage with young people, provide role models who inspire, do something interesting or useful: a youth club, creative arts, sport, volunteering etc.
So it takes a village to raise a child… And our children will continue to encounter danger/fear/knives on their way to and from school unless we all start thinking about this being ‘our’ problem. Instead of leaving it to others, we all need to roll up our sleeves and get involved. If you have time and/or skills to offer, please get in touch via the details below.
On 23 June a further stabbing was reported at the junction of Middle Lane with Park Road. A teenager was taken to hospital with knife wounds to his abdomen.
Cori Josias: [email protected]
Facebook Group: ‘Stop Knife Crime in Muswell Hill’
How to report a crime: www.met.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime
Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111, or via Twitter: @MetCC