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Community unites to take action against knife crime in Barking and Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 14:26 18 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:02 18 October 2018

Charities, councillors and the police sign pledge to tackle knife crime at community event organised by Beatrice Mushiya. Picutre: Basit Mahmood

Charities, councillors and the police sign pledge to tackle knife crime at community event organised by Beatrice Mushiya. Picutre: Basit Mahmood

Basit Mahmood

Councillors, charities and the police were among those who signed a pledge at Barking Town Hall yesterday to unite and take action against knife crime.

Duran Kajiama was stabbed to death in Dagenham in November 2016. Picture: Met PoliceDuran Kajiama was stabbed to death in Dagenham in November 2016. Picture: Met Police

Councillors, charities and the police were among those who signed a pledge at Barking Town Hall yesterday to unite and take action against knife crime.

The pledge was signed at the end of a public event organised by Beatrice Mushiya, whose son, 17-year-old Duran Kajima, was stabbed to death in Dagenham in November 2016.

The pledge promises to make the borough knife free by educating young people about knife crime, supporting young people in trouble and creating opportunities for young people in order to give them positive choices.

Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, councillor Darren Rodwell said that one of the saddest pieces of paper he has come across as leader has been that which recorded 1,484 knife crime incidents in the borough over the last four years.

He described how when he first met Ms Mushiya he was overcome with emotion and couldn’t imagine the pain she was going through.

He said: “Barking and Dagenham is not the worst for knife crime, but that doesn’t stop the pain when a loved one is lost.

He added: I’m always an optimist, together we beat the BNP, we fought for gender equality and together we will stop knife crime in this borough.”

Cllr Rodwell wanted to send out a message to young people, that they didn’t need a knife to be safe.

Founder of ‘Box Up Crime’, a charity that uses boxing to turnaround the lives of young people who have been involved in crime, Stephen Addison, appealed to community leaders and young people to work together to achieve a positive outcome.

He said: “I’ve made wrong choices, but I’ve managed to turn it around, I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today, I didn’t pass my exams, I got kicked out of school, but all of you could be doing this.

“We need to work together to achieve this change.”

Ms Mushiya spoke about the courage it had taken her to be able to speak about the loss of her son, whom she described as much loved by all those around him.

She said: “He was a loveable boy.

“After his death, I cannot see him get married or go to university, all that because of knife crime.

“When the police asked for a picture of him, they said that that picture as too nice.

“I miss my son dearly, he was always smiling and dancing all over the house.”

Ms Mushiya said she was still managing her trauma following the death of her son, something she found difficult to put into words.

She said she was keen to raise awareness about knife crime through working with parents, community organisations and young people.

Pupils from The Warren School, Dagenham who were involved with the Box Up crime described how the charity had helped them in so many ways, with one pupil appealing for more youth clubs in the borough to give pupils something to do.

The pupils also spoke about their respect for Ms Mushiya who had come into their school and made them realise the grave impact of knife crime.

Det Supt Neil Matthews, from the Met Police, said: “Too many of our young people are scared to go out into the street.”

He was keen to highlight the importance of getting young people on board in combating knife crime.

He said: “Very few of our young commit crime, the majority are law abiding.”

Det Supt Matthews added: “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem, the first thing is prevention.”

Pupils from Dagenham Park Church of England School read out poems aimed at encouraging young people to turn away from knives.

Cabinet member for social care and health integration, councillor Maureen Worby wrapped up the event by appealing to the community to listen to the concerns and needs of young people, if the borough was to be successful in combating knife crime.

She said: “We, the adults, have a responsibility to listen.

“It was the young people in the community that came forward and said we wanted to do something, what can we do?”

In July last year, a 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reason, was jailed for 12 years for the manslaughter of Duran.

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