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Open letter: Together for Change, a citywide campaign against knife crime in Bristol

An illustration with photos of three children and a broken knife.
Cable Community News

Today we come together as a city united to say enough is enough. We must see an end to the scourge of knife crime that has hit the city in recent weeks, months and years.

Knife crime has a devastating effect on the communities it impacts. And never has this been more clear than what’s happened so far in Bristol in 2024. 

Over just 18 days at the end of January and the start of February, three teenagers in the city have lost their lives.

Mason Rist, 15, and Max Dixon, 16, died after being attacked in Knowle West on January 27. Darrian Williams,16, was attacked in Rawnsley Park in Easton on February 14 and later died.

There have been other incidents and all this comes after 2023, a year in which there was an incident involving a knife on average more than once a week.

A number of lives were lost, including Eddie King Muthemba Kinuthia, Paul Wagland, Mikey Roynon and Hubert ‘Isaac’ Brown, Adam Ali Ibrahim, and Martin Hefferman.

Knife crime is a public health issue, worsened by cuts that have decimated vital services and youth provision, hitting some of the poorest communities hardest.

We know there is no magic way to make this problem go away, but we – the city’s media, community leaders, campaigners and more –  have joined forces with the following six-point plan:

Set up a task force – We will develop a community-driven task force to meet and discuss the issue, how best to tackle it and how we can make a real difference with those in power.

Getting knives off the street – We will work with the campaigners to raise awareness of initiatives designed to get knives off the streets. 

Social media – We will look at the Online Safety Bill and see if it goes far enough where it comes to harmful knife-related content on social media and how easy it is for children to see.

Raise awareness – We will work together to raise the awareness of how knife crime is linked to poverty, education, employment, social exclusion and the collapse in youth services

Lobby the government – We will cover the issue in the context of the General Election, using our findings from the taskforce and our reporting to lobby for change 

Hold power to account – We will scrutinise and hold Avon and Somerset Police and Bristol City Council to account on their plans and models to make Bristol safer

Of course, we don’t have all the answers. This campaign will be a moving thing that will develop as time passes. But the key message is, we must see change in the city.

The best way of giving ourselves a chance of making that happen is by working together.

If you would like to take part in this campaign, then we want to hear from you. Contact sean@thebristolcable.org with the subject line Together for Change.

Signed:

Leanne Reynolds, Knife crime campaigner

Reverend Dr Dawnecia Palmer

Abdul Malik, Chairperson/Trustee, Easton Jamia Masjid

Patrick Hart, BCfm

Mohamed Makawi, Green Party Councillor for Cotham

Desmond Brown, Director, Growing Futures

Martin Bisp (Empire Fighting Chance)

Pete Gavan, Senior Editor, BristolLive

Kate Wilson, Executive Editor, BristolLive

Mark Taylor, Editor, BristolWorld

Charlie Watts, BristolWorld

Sean Morrison, Investigations Lead, Bristol Cable

Eliz Mizon, Strategy Lead, Bristol Cable

Martin Booth, Editor, Bristol24/7

Nicky Edmondson, Chief Executive Officer for Excalibur Academies Trust

Bristol Rovers Community Trust

Neil Blundell, CEO, Cathedral Schools Trust

Neil Maggs, Bristol journalist, presenter of the Cable’s Unpacked podcast and former community worker

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  • Children need to be educated about the repercussions after a knife crime has been committed, they need to fully understand how their life and the lives of their family members would instantly change and the consequences of them having to spend years locked away from their loved ones. On the news today a mother had to phone the police to tell them her son had admitted to stabbing someone. I can’t imagine the pain that it caused her and the worry that she will have to endure in the future. We’ve lost a few young members of our family, but not due to any of them being purposely killed, and I dread to think of the agony that all of these families and friends have been faced with and they will forever be saddened because another child decided to take their child’s life. There must be several youngsters who are now locked up for years and who deeply regret the stupid act that they carried out which led to them being there and maybe their voices could recorded and played in schools and sports clubs to help dissuade others.

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