The parents of Sam Cook, who was fatally stabbed in 2017, will be joining Chief Constable Andy Cooke and other professionals on a panel who will debate the issue of knife crime and the impact it has on victims, victims' families, young people and communities this afternoon (Tuesday, 9 July 2019).
The other members on the panel are: Sue Gregory (Director of Youth Engagement and Employability at Everton in the Community); Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan and Tony Costello (Headteacher at Savio Salesian College).
The Forum - taking place at Savio Salesian College - is the culmination of the Serious Organised Crime Insight Programme, which involved 15 young people from secondary schools in Sefton.
The programme has been developed as part of an educational initiative jointly funded by Merseyside Police and Everton in the Community (EitC) and is designed to raise awareness of criminal exploitation and how young people can be exploited by those causing misery in some of our poorest communities through violence and criminality.
This was the second Insight Programme to be carried out in Merseyside and involved students from communities where young people are vulnerable to criminal exploitation and it will kick-start a series of early intervention programmes across the county, delivered by Everton in the Community, the charitable arm of Everton Football Club.
In the last week the students were sworn in as detectives on the programme. Together with experienced detectives they investigated a fictional case involving the stabbing of a teenager. As the week progressed the teenagers found themselves immersed into the world of investigation.
They learnt how to interview victims, witnesses and suspects and draw the evidence together and eventually found themselves able to charge the offender.
The week involved inputs from nurse clinician Rob Jackson; a presentation on county lines and visits to Alder Hey Children's Hospital's Rainbow Suite where medical professionals provide care for victims of trauma, and Liverpool Crown Court, where judge Neil Flewitt gave them an introduction to the criminal justice system.
Following the programme the young people who had taken part said that "it had been really beneficial and opened your eyes to what is happening out there", "it changes your mind and you as a person" and "taught us valuable life lessons and showed us the impact of knife crime and gang culture". The young people also mentioned how some of the flaws included having to work through your lunch break and long hours which were really tiring.
Chief Constable Andy Cooke, said: "Knife crime is a real issue across the country and we recognise that we can't enforce our way out of the problem. Merseyside Police has recently received Home Office funding, which will allow us to carry out more operational activity whilst at the same time co-ordinate a multi-agency response to look at a long term solution to tackling the problem and change the behaviour of those who think it's okay to carry and use knives on the streets and in our communities.
"Just this week we have seen the tragic death of a 21-year-old man in Kirkby, his family are absolutely devastated by his loss and a community is also suffering. This is completely unacceptable, but we can't solve the problem alone. We will continue to work with our partners, but more importantly we want to work with our young people to see how we can move forward and reduce knife crime. None of us want to see more young lives taken, or people having to live with life changing injuries. It is vital that we talk and listen to our young people if we are to make a difference in the future and key to that is educating our young people about the consequences of knife crime."
Sue Gregory, Director of Youth Engagement at Everton in the Community, said: “Serious organised crime has a stronghold on many areas in the community in which we operate and often children unfortunately believe that their only viable career path is into criminality and illegal employment. Our charity’s impact model has an ethos that inspires young people and keeps them in education, gives them positive community activities and supports them when they need us most. A key element of this model is our Pathways project which involves some of the great businesses of our city to inspire young people and offer them work placements and employment for the future.”
Looking forward to the knife crime forum Savio Salesian College Headteacher Tony Costello, said: "The school is extremely proud to have been invited to take part in this extremely important debate about a subject that is very much at the heart of our communities and at the frontend of young people’s lives and the challenges they face. Through this partnership with the wider community hopefully this forum will have a strong impact not just today but going forwards."