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Camden News - by TOM FOOT
Published: 3 July 2008
Politicians unite to call for action in bid to tackle teen knife crisis

PLANS for a Town Hall inquiry into teenage crime – in the wake of the deaths of Ben Kinsella and Sharma’arke Hassan – have been supported by all political parties in Camden.
Conservative councillor Chris Philp is due to launch an investigation at a scrutiny meeting on July 22.
He said the council should do “as much as possible” to understand the root causes of youth murder.
Cllr Philp said: “I am concerned that for some youths growing up in Camden today, violent crime is becoming a way of life.
“Our society has become broken in places, which leads to these problems. We need to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to crime and get more police on the streets. But we also need to fix the causes: broken homes, divided communities and an education system that often fails.”
Cllr Philp is in a position to head the inquiry as chairman of one of the council’s scrutiny committees.
“We will come back with a fast response,” he said.
Ben Kinsella was the 17th teenager to die in London this year.
Liberal Democrat crime chief Councillor James King said: “I welcome a considered and serious piece of work on this topic.
“Tackling youth violence is a priority and I have asked for regular updates on the work council officers are doing to collect information on gangs and to warn young people of the risks associated with carrying knives.
“It is important to consider not just enforcement issues but also how we reduce the risk of young people getting involved in crime and anti-social behaviour as they reach their teens.”
Labour councillor Abdul Hai, who has worked with troubled teenagers for 10 years at the King’s Cross and Brunswick neighbourhood association, said: “I support Chris Philp on this because the council has so far not done enough in investigating the root causes of the problem. Young people should be playing football or going to the cinema, not carrying knives and stabbing each other. Knives are being carried out of fear.”
He added: “The parents need to be better informed. Many of the knives being used in these crimes are being taken from the kitchen. Simply just throwing money doesn’t work. We need to even consider giving some teenagers that have left school early a second chance at an education.”
Regent’s Park ward councillor Theo Blackwell said: “What is really important is youth projects, rather than a lot of hot air and the sound of people jumping on bandwagons. The council has cut funding to youth centres and youth work in Camden Town, Highgate, Gospel Oak and Regent’s Park estate. We have anti-social behaviour reports coming out of our ears – if you listen to young people youth clubs are their priority.”

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