Merseyside Police Chief Constable Andy Cooke joined Sue Gregory from Everton in the Community, Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan from Mersey Fire and Rescue Service, headteacher Tony Costello the parents of Sam Cook at Salvo Salesian College in Bootle today for a Knife Crime Question Time to discuss the impact on knife crime and what can be done to combat it.
Schools from all over Merseyside took part including Savio Salesian, Calderstones, Litherland High, Maricourt, Hillside, Penkford as well as Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service's Prince Trust programmes. The event was organised by Merseyside Police in conjunction with Everton in the Community and hosted by Radio City presenter Pete Price.
The event came a week after Merseyside Police launched £4.2m Operation Target which aims to combat serious and violent crime, including knife crime.
The panel answered questions from the audience during a 90 minute session which aimed to understand the causes of knife crime, who is affected by knife crime, what the professionals are doing to target it and what young people can do as part of the solution.
Questions included "How can young people protect ourselves and feel safe in the city?", "Do you think the current punishments for having/using knives are harsh enough?" and "What do you think is the most influential factor in kids carrying weapons?"
Speaking after the event, Chief Constable Cooke said it was important to hear the opinion of young people about what can be done to combat knife crime.
He said: "Sadly we have seen far too many knife crime incidents across the country and over Merseyside in the last couple of years. We need to keep giving out the message about how it wrecks lives. Today we were fortunate enough to hear from Gill and Alan (the parents of Sam Cook). Sadly their son was murdered by a man with a knife 18 months ago. If more people could hear that message it would stop people from carrying knives. The absolute devastation it has caused to their family and all families, that is the message we need to get across. Not only is it the wrong thing to do but the devastating impact on families is incredible."
He added: "Importantly [today] we have been getting the views of young people about what we should be doing to tackle knife crime and that is essential because this is not an issue that policing will solve or even police and partners together will solve. The communities will solve this alongside us and young people in communities are crucial to doing that."