As part of our special feature on ‘Operation Shutdown’ this week, we focus on how the bereaved families would like to see the laws changed and what help they feel is needed to stop the horrific tidal wave of knife crime blighting our streets. We also have a Q and A with the Romford MP.
Operation shutdown is a newly formed consortium of mums and dads and other bereaved family members working with and supported by other knife crime campaigners and campaigns, teachers, grassroots, youth and community groups.
A peaceful protest will take place on Wednesday April 17 in Westminster, where the bereaved family members will come together, standing united to be a voice heard across the streets of London.
These broken hearted mums have united in their cause to have justice for their murdered children but also to stop other parents from having to undergo the agony they have been through and bringing an end to the violence that is spreading rapidly across our country.
Emma Clay Taylor from Trowbridge in Wiltshire lost her son Jordan to knife crime in March 2017. Jordan had celebrated his 25th birthday on the Tuesday before he was murdered and had gone out on the Saturday.
Emma told The Enquirer: “Jordan had gone out on the Saturday night to celebrate his birthday.
“I never ever dreamt something like this would happen to him, I still can’t believe it now.”
Jordan had gone to help his cousin who had been involved in a difficult situation and in defending his cousin Jordan was stabbed to death.
“He was stabbed twice in the stomach and twice in the back. The night it happened the police knocked on our door during the early hours of the morning.
“They asked me to gather everyone together and then informed us that there had been an incident and that Jordan was dead. My first thought was that he had been drink driving and had gotten in an accident, I never dream that my son had been stabbed to death.”
“The police never informed us that Jordan had been stabbed to death, all they told us what that there had been a so called incident and that he was dead.
“I had to find out on social media that my son had been stabbed. I went round talking to people trying to get as much information as I could on what had happened.”
Hayden Maslen aged 19 years old at the time, was arrested for stabbing Jordan but found not guilty of murder or manslaughter but instead jailed for carrying a knife.
“You can’t tackle knife crime if you don’t start at the roots. The laws need to be changed to prevent these killings.
“After the spate of acid attacks the sentencing became higher to prevent these attacks and we have seen a 45% drop now in acid attacks because of this. The same thing needs to be done for knife crime,” carried on Emma.
“We need to show zero tolerance and change the laws, there is nothing currently to deter people thats why these attacks are happening.
“Yes we need to work with youngsters but we most also all combine and show a zero tolerance approach. Our judges are out of touch. Look at the Scottish judges they give twice the sentences our judges give and this is what we should be doing.
“At the moment these offenders know they can play the system and get away with it.”
Melanie Hopwood from Harlow in Essex lost her son at the age of 16 years old. Tommy Jones was murdered in Beckton after having spent the day in east London visiting his cousin in August of 2006.
Melanie told The Enquirer: “Tommy had gone to east London to spend the day with his cousin.
“He had spent the day in Beckton having a good time with his cousin until late in the evening. They had gone to a pub where Tommy sat with his cousin and his friends and it was there that he met his killer.”
“An argument between Tommy’s cousin and a man had broken out and it was 16 year old Tommy that had broken the argument up and calmed things down.
“The bar maid in the pub testified that it was Tommy that broken up the argument and had calmed the situation down.
“He had told them that they were both friends and not to argue.
“However, the man and Tommy’s killer left the bar and waited outside for Tommy and his cousin to come out.”
Tommy was stabbed to death outside of the pub at just 16 years old, a day before getting told his was about to be a father.
Tommy’s killer handed himself in following the stabbing and was tried at the Old Bailey for murder.
Melanie continued: “The trial was a total sham, Jamie Turpin was found not guilty of murder and said that he had used the knife in self defence.
My son and his cousin never had a knife, Turpin was on remand for eight months. No inquest was held.
“We have to tackle the streets and stop these killings, they are killing each other every day now. there is no chance for parents like us to grieve. It destroys you from the inside.”
The Enquirer this week has put forward some of these question to the Romford MP Andrew Rosindell to find out his response and views on the current knife crime epidemic.
Mr Rosindell is a strong supporter of the police and last week spoke out at a knife crime meeting at the Houses of Parliament following the fatal stabbing of 17 year old Jodie Chesney in Havering.
Mr Rosindell spoke about the horrors blighting our streets and attended the vigil of the murdered teenager in Harold Hill two weeks ago.
We posed the following questions to the MP this week:
Question 1) The bereaved mums would like to see a victims law introduced. What are your views on this?
“It is extremely important that victims are not forgotten in the justice system. Due to the system in which the state brings the case against offenders, we must ensure their vital interests are respected. The Government has worked with victims, victim groups and the Victims Commissioner during the development of the strategy, which is informed by direct experiences suffered by victims.
“The Code is a Government document
that outlines the support victims should, by law, receive from criminal justice agencies in England and Wales, including the police and courts.
“Unfortunately, many people are not even aware that it exists and some who are aware of the code are not clear about what it means for them, so a revised version of the code will be consulted on. Soon, we will have a Victims Law established which will make sure that no victim will have to fight for the support and services they are entitled to.”
Question 2) The Government call for a COBRA meeting to tackle knife crime. Do you agree?
“It is completely right that bereaved parents have demanded an emergency COBRA meeting as youngsters are dying weekly. However, I am glad to see the Home Secretary’s decision to launch a more open summit and resulting consultation to ensure public bodies, including hospitals, raise concerns about children at risk of becoming involved in knife crime.
“This needs to be treated as a national disease and I know he is putting this point strongly to police chiefs.”
Question 3) Do you agree that those found guilty should serve the full sentence, the maximum sentence possible?
“We need to properly stamp out the root causes of gangs, and ensure the punishment fits the crime, no more soft sentencing.
“Obviously cases are taken on an individual bases, so this is something I will be pushing for, such as a compulsory custodial sentence for carrying a knife, and asking the Government if they would consider increasing the minimum sentence for knife-related crime.”
Question 4) Do you agree that the Government should halt all further planned cuts to local council planned budgets and restore pre austerity levels?
“Local authorities deserve the resources they need to do their job in delivering truly world-class public services.
“That is why I welcomed the recent Local Government Finance Settlement, which provides two years of real term increases in resources available to local authorities across England. In addition the Chancellor has announced a £100 million funding boost is an essential investment to allow the police and Violence Reduction Units to go further and faster in taking action to tackle deaths and injuries.
Question 5) Do you agree that the Government restores police budgets to pre austerity levels to ensure adequate police numbers, staffing and resources?
“I do not agree with what the PM said about cuts in police having no link to crime. The Government and the Mayor have a duty to allocate as many resources as they can to fighting crime, particularly in inner city areas, but also in outer London areas where crime has recently been rising.
“We should work together, because the public are losing patience. Without the right numbers, low-level offences cannot be policed proactively, to challenge criminality and antisocial behaviour. Supporting the police is about resourcing but also making sure they have the powers to get on with the job and be effective on the ground.”
Question 6) How do you think knife crime should be tackled?
“We know that the threat from crime is changing, that is why I stand fully behind stop and search and see it as a vital tool for the police, we must remove obstacles which stop the police from doing their job properly.
“Similarly, the ‘tactical contacts’ police forces are now using to reduce moped crime is a welcome change. I made all of these issue clear to the Prime Minister when I last met with her, and hope to see more robust responses towards violent criminals. We need to stamp out the culture of gangs encroaching from inner London, in conjunction with early intervention, as set out with the new Knife Crime Prevention Orders.
by Francesca Lilleystone