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Community unites to flush out curse of knife crime

UNVEILING: David Jamieson, West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner, right, unveils the bin with youth workers Daanyaal Shaikh, left, Karac Boldick and Antoine Farrell

THE EVIL of knife crime is failing to divide the community – in fact the arrival of eight weapons surrender bins across Birmingham is having the opposite effect.

That was the message as the eighth knife bin was unveiled outside a Tesco superstore in Aston Lane, where David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner led the opening ceremony.

“Knife crime has given this city quite a serious problem in the past, but it’s encouraging that decent, ordinary people have said enough is enough,” he said. “People don’t want to live with the threat of knives and other weapons on our streets.

“Rather than dividing us, this issue is bringing communities together of all faiths and cultures.”

Before the official opening, a haul of more than 150 knives, guns, a replica firearm, live ammunition and knuckle dusters were retrieved from seven bins across the city provided by the Word45Weapons charity, an initiative of the Ascension Trust.

Mike Smith, the charity’s spokesman and founder, said: “We need the community on board. People are already working together to find a common chord that unites us all.

“Sometimes, perhaps only one knife maybe found in a bin, but as the Tesco slogan says: ‘Every little helps’ – it means one less knife on our streets.

“These bins are for everyone – for people who want to dispose of old kitchen knives, rather than letting them get into the wrong hands if they are simply thrown away.

“We want to make the ownership of any weapon socially unacceptable. The loss of life, the trauma to families, the police time, courts and prison costs are all unacceptable and avoidable.”

Community activist Desmond Jaddoo, who has played a leading role in the bin campaign, added: “We as a community must take responsibility to make our streets safer. We cannot simply say: ‘It’s someone else’s problem, it won’t happen to me. We all need to be aware that the policeman’s knock could come to our door.

“This bin – this piece of ironmongery is not for Tesco, it’s for all of us to use.”

Annette Taylor, of the charity Unity in the Community, sang a song before the bin was unveiled by community and youth workers and Councillor Yvonne Mosquito, West Midlands Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner.

Darnish Amraz, a youth worker at the Lozells-based Lighthouse youth centre, said he has just helped to train 12 young people to deliver workshops to schools and youth clubs on the dangers of carrying knives.

“We want to get the message out that there is nothing cool about carrying these weapons,” he told The Voice.

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