Knife Crime : Khan’s Report – Why It Will Not Help my ‘Brudda Pon Di Glass’

Knife Crime : Khan’s Report – Why It Will Not Help my ‘Brudda Pon Di Glass’

Knife crime has rapidly become an epidemic and this has propelled Sadiq Khan, our London Mayor, to seek change in our capital and the manner in which authorities and communities respond to knife crime.

In his June 2017 ‘The London Knife Crime Strategy,’ Khan looks at solutions to knife crime. With data from the Metropolitan Police revealing that 75% of victims of knife crime are male, frequently aged under 25 and that half of victims of knife crime are from BAME backgrounds, the strategy implements help to support these young individuals.

In summary, here are a few solutions that strategy includes:

  • Classical music in fast-food outlet’s like McDonald’s and KFC in order to create a calming space for young people. This is because fast-food outlet’s are often the spots in which knife crime fulled attacks occur.
  • Body-worn videos rolled out across Metropolitan Police officers by end of 2017 in order to safeguard individuals in the Met.
  • Work with pan-London initiatives such as London Kicks which engages with young people and crime. 5 million pound funding will be given in partnership with such initiatives that cover the 31 London Boroughs in order to help youth violence.
  • Through the funded service: ‘Restore: London’ youth offending teams will be able to deliver restorative justice to young offenders to ameliorate their lives.
  • Services for victims will be improved ensuring they are supported after ‘teachable moments.’ The strategy states that ‘teachable moments’ are experiences that warrant support and intervention by services such as when the victim is sent to hospital or an offender is found with a knife. They will be given support and guided.

These are a few of Khan’s strategies. I am hopeful that these will make a difference, although I am still not entirely sure how classical music is going to stop young offenders carrying knives. It is, in many ways, stereotyping such genres as grime or hip-hop by stating that these draw people to offences. Music may play a certain factor, but there are socio-economical, familial and, generally, overarching factors that impact individuals who are likely to use a knife – not just the music they listen to. Stating that listening to high-brow music will stop people from carrying knives assumes that ‘middle-class’ individuals do not use knives. We only have to turn to the young Oxford student who stabbed her boyfriend in May who has been excused of all charges for her ‘genius.’ I am sure she listened to Beethoven and Vivaldi!

Even so, it is wonderful that the Mayor is making changes in order to help young people.

Personally, I know someone, who I will not name, who is in prison for using a knife. He was my friend since I was thirteen years old. Not only is he one of the kindest individuals I have met but it was impossible for him to escape the cyclical world of violence that he was born in. The estate he lived in gave him no choice; no freedoms to explore the multiplicity of options that the world affords. I watched as his mother would not give him money to use it for her own alcohol. I watched as he had to make money through any means possible and became drawn into a drug-world. I watched as he carried around a knife, fearful for his life; shadows following him continually. He had no choice. I sit here now, with this wonderful opportunity and start off in media, which he never could have done. He was doomed from birth.

When he was sent to prison I sent him this poem in order to make sure that he could be rehabilitated from prison and, hopefully, start again. It is named ‘The Man in the Glass’ by Peter Dale Wimbrow, and it reads as follows:

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

He responded with this poem that he had written in response. Baring in mind this young man has had no education. This man has constantly had to battle the storms of inequality, injustice, violence, crime, drugs. Yet, despite his lack of education, he responded with this beautiful poem:

The Brudda Pon di Glass

Thank you so much for my card and my lovely poem,
But the man in the glass- it feels like I hardly know him
In jail, because I didn’t chose the cab to where I was going,
I’ve been banged up. Only shreds of sunlight flowing in.

I heard what the man in the glass has to say-
All day I’m bored, so here in my bed I lay,
He said: ‘Use your time wisely, and get up and pray-
At least it will take up most of your day.”

The man in the glass I think is my friend,
But I don’t know if he’s lying and it’s just for pretend,
He stares at me hard and gets in my head
But I don’t know if I can accept him, will he be there till the end?

The man in the glass makes me feel down,
He’s all I’ve got left now – but he stares with a frown.
I break the glass, what is the point? Judgment will pass upon me
To the end of my days, I’m sure you would agree.

Now I’m writing these letters, hoping time will go fast;
Because I’m very upset about my present and my past.
Now I’m just sitting down all day, doing time on my arse,
But there is one question that your poem really asked….
And now you understand why I can never be happy with the man in the glass.

This may seem like a rant. To me, however, it explores something that is far deeper than anything said in the Sadiq Khan report. This is not about classical music and, in all honesty, I do not even think it’s about youth clubs. This may seem like a controversial point but, actually, from my experience, my friend would never have gone to a youth club. He would have been bullied for going to a ‘safe space’; for not being ‘hard’ like the rest of his peers and chilling on the streets. The strategy is good at its heart. It should be followed through if it can touch at least one individual.

I, however, believe we need to look at schools.

More pastoral care. More trained specialists who can identify why students are acting up, making sure that if students do not enjoy studying Literature or Science that they can be taught Mechanics, Rapping – anything to give them a passion and opportunity. We need to not make opportunity elitist whereby only the rich can afford to do years of free work to break into an industry.

We need to give more as a community and give more to our schools.

Only then, I believe, will people like my friend be given the chance in life they deserve.

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