The father of a murdered Catholic schoolboy has urged society to make greater efforts to build better community cohesion in an attempt to reduce violent crimes.
Barry Mizen’s call comes as new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that fatal stabbings are at the highest level since the start of this decade.
Describing the figures as “horrendous”, Mr Mizen said he believes the issue of violent crime is not going away and begs the question, “What, if anything, can be done?
“The issues we are seeking to combat have their beginnings in our communities, and therefore the solutions will also have to come, in part, from our communities,” Mr Mizen told The Universe.
He suggested that one good starting point would be to stop expecting harsher, retributive action to be the difference and to stop saying it is a police or government issue.
“Consequences of actions have to be implemented, but if we want to stop incarcerating one individual, just for another to take his or her place, then something different is also needed,” he said.
Mr Mizen explained that many of the perpetrators’ criminal activity had its beginnings in earlier childhood and therefore it is vital to prevent young people developing into violent criminals.
Mr Mizen’s son, Jimmy – a pupil at St Thomas More Catholic Comprehensive School in Eltham, southeast London – was murdered in 2008 by 19-year-old youth Jake Fahri. Fahri threw a glass dish at Jimmy during an altercation at a bakery, which shattered and pierced Jimmy’s neck, severing vital blood vessels.
The Mizen family set up the charity The Jimmy Mizen Foundation – now called For Jimmy – in 2009 in a bid to share Jimmy’s story and help young people make their communities safer.
Mr Mizen suggested that safe havens, such as the ones they have created with primary and secondary school children on high streets across Lewisham, are an effective example of community action as they involve working with young people, schools and the local community, building relationships.
“We all have a responsibility to each other, including sharing information, we can if we want, make vast improvements.”
The ONS figures showed that there were 215 homicides perpetrated using a knife or other sharp instrument in the year to March 2017.
To find out more about For Jimmy see: ForJimmy.org
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Picture: File photo dated 19/06/17 of police tape at a crime scene. (Peter Byrne/PA).