Prominent Catholic peace campaigner Barry Mizen has spoken of great “responsibility” witnesses to crimes have in making a “difference”.
Mr Mizen’s comments come as the Met Police and Crimestoppers have launched the Hard Calls Save Lives campaign, which encourages people to provide information about crimes.
Mr Mizen, of The Mizen Foundation, recalled the major impact witness statements had in the murder case of his son Jimmy.
“From my own experience following the killing of my son Jimmy, many people were prepared to come forward as witnesses. Some 140 people provided a statement and at the trial of my son’s killer fourteen people were called to give evidence,” he told The Catholic Universe.
“In our case the jury returned a unanimous verdict of murder, and during the press briefing after the trial the senior investigating officer said it was the witnesses that made the difference.”
However, Mr Mizen acknowledged that not all people are prepared to be witnesses or offer information for a number of reasons, including fear of reprisals or a false sense of how they should act with such knowledge.
“There is this thought process that we ‘don’t grass, we don’t tell’ is the right response. It is hard to argue against that in many situations, however when it comes to a loss, or potential loss, of life a different response is possible,” he said.
He pointed out that many victims and their families do not get an outcome that helps them to manage a new reality in their lives and information could be the difference in how they cope.
“The outcome of someone facing consequences of their actions will not undo what has happened but it does enable people to cope and recover in more incidences,” he said.
His comments come as the Hard Calls Save Lives campaign has told the stories of five mothers, all of whom have lost sons to knife crime. In an emotive video each mother recalls the phonecalls they made to relatives to inform them of their son’s death.
The campaign acknowledges how people find it hard to call and report information on crime but noted that these mothers had to make much harder calls.
It also reveals the complete anonymity Crimestoppers callers receive, from their telephone numbers being hidden and the lines being scrambled to the calls not being recorded.
Mr Mizen said the campaign could be successful if the message gets to those who can make a difference.
“There is also, of course, the responsibility on ourselves, to be people that will make a difference. Not with a mind that people will be prosecuted, but that sufferers of crime have some respite,” he said.
Picture: Mothers whose sons were the victims of fatal knife crimes attend the launch of the Hard Calls Save Lives campaign.