Following the launch of the South London Press’ Time to Talk campaign this week, Superintendent Gabriel Cameron for the Lambeth and Southwark area has given his views on the Met’s approach to tackling knife crime, as well as the signs for parents and guardians to look out for.
By Superintendent Gabriel Cameron
Our community is in mourning for yet another senseless murder of a young man. Over the past two months we have lost two young men to knife crime – both murders within miles of each other.
I’ve been a police officer for more than 20 years, and Superintendent for Lambeth and Southwark for eight months, but telling parents and loved ones that they will never see their child again, that their lives have been cut short by a senseless stabbing, never gets easier.
The trauma and the ripple effect that knife crime has on family, friends and the wider community is unfathomable. These senseless killings have to stop.
Reducing knife crime requires a multi-agency response, which is why my officers and I have been working with partners, agencies and community groups to find solutions to tackling knife crime on our streets.
Understanding why a young person decides to carry a knife is key – and in my time as an officer I know that there are a myriad of complex reasons why an individual may decide to carry a weapon.
It may be for acceptance among their friends and peers, or it may be that they are afraid and think that by carrying a knife they are protecting themselves, when in fact they are increasing the risk of being stabbed or injured.
Often, young people caught up in knife crime fail to understand the life-changing consequences.
Education is key – both the education of vulnerable young people susceptible to knife crime, and the education of parents and guardians. We have and will continue to work with parents within the wider community to ensure that they know what to look out for.
Some of the key things include:
- Have any items gone missing from the kitchen, tool box or garage?
- Has their child’s attitude changed about carrying weapons/knives such as carrying them for self defence?
- Have parents found a weapon hidden amongst their possessions?
We are serious about tackling knife crime, which is why we have been given an uplift to our Safer Neighbourhood team.
Within the next few months there will be three new inspectors and seven sergeants in Lambeth.
They will be working closely with residents to build up trust and confidence with our communities.
I am all too familiar with the intergenerational trauma and ill-feeling towards the police, and we still have a lot of work to do in this space. But I am confident that with our A New Met for London plan, which puts listening to our communities at the heart of policy, we will get there.
Tackling knife crime cannot be solved by policing alone – it needs a whole societal approach.
As a father myself one thing is clear to me – we cannot go on as we are.
We cannot bury our young, and lose more young people to knife crime. But I am hopeful that as a community we can build bridges and work together to keep our streets safe, and our young people safer.
Pictured top: Superintendent Gabriel Cameron (Picture: The Met)
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