By Kirsty Grant
A priest has called for more knife amnesty bins to be set up in Camden.
St Mary’s church in Primrose Hill was the first place to set up a bin of its kind in the borough, despite high knife crime statistics in the area.
Reverend Marjorie Brown set up the bin, which she bought from charity Word4Weapons, after an increasing number of young people in the area were getting caught up in knife crime.
Marjorie said: “Knife crime is a really big problem in our area.
“In the past ten days there have been three deaths of people either through gun or knife crime, two of whom were known personally to our youth workers”
Knife crime in the borough grew by 180% in the two year period between 2016 and 2018, according to the Metropolitan Police, making it one of the most increasingly dangerous boroughs in London.
The boxes are sold by charity Word4Weapons which sets out to reduce knife crime across the UK. Marjorie’s church paid a fee of £4000 for the bin’s installation.
Knives can be deposited anonymously in the bins and will be disposed of without questions being asked.
Marjorie says there have been more than 30 knives handed in this year.
“Often it’s people’s parents who put them in there, if they find them in their children’s stuff.”
‘More are needed’
She added, “I would love to see more bins across the borough.
“Here it’s just been led by the people who thought it was a good idea, not the police.”
Although, because of the price, Marjorie says it’s likely that other establishments may want to buy one but can’t afford it.
“It’s a lot of money if you’re a charity or church wanting to set one up.”
There are 24 similar bins across London, all bought from the same charity
The above statistics provided by the Home Office show that London has a significantly higher level of knife related offences than other regions, with relation to area population.
They also show that Camden in particular is one of the six boroughs with the highest increase in knife crime incidents when compared to all 32 London boroughs.
Richard Grove is a clinical psychologist from Camden and Islington NHS Trust. He works closely with young people who carry knives or are at risk of carrying knives.
He said: “They’re living in a warzone sometimes. Their friends are being attacked and sometimes killed.
“Death is a reality for these young people.”
Although Richard and his team work mainly on prevention, he agrees that more knife bins would be a good thing for those who have already picked up a knife.
“The presence of a bin alone won’t have a huge impact, but it’s a brilliant option to have it in the local area.
“I definitely would encourage more being set up.”
Reverend Marjorie Brown believes it’s more important to tackle the root of the issues, and wants to see more investment in youth programmes to “take young children off the streets”.
Her church in Camden runs a number of schemes for young people in the area, pairing them up with mentors, developing practical skills and running a weekly after school club.
In September this year Marjorie ran a community service to pay respects to the 16 people thought to have been killed in youth violence in the area since 2013.
Rapman, real name Andrew Onwubolu, directed the film Blue Story which was recently shown in cinemas and tells the story of two boys who got caught up in knife crime.
When he was a teen, he was involved in postcode rivalries and saw lots of his friends killed as a result.
He said: “These kids aren’t all spawns of Satan, they didn’t come from child abuse or neglectful mothers.
“What kids go through in the school playground is so intense, it all starts there.”
He agrees that it is better to intervene before people reach the point of committing a crime, rather than having harsher policing.
He said: “Kids need one-on-one support instead of waiting until they’re 17, feeling alone and end up picking up a weapon.”
Reverend Marjorie Brown agrees that school-aged children are most vulnerable to getting caught up in knife crime.
She said: “The most dangerous time for knife crime is the couple of hours after school’s finished.”
“We know it’s happening so we have decided to deal with the reality rather than fantasy.”
She hopes to see more organisations and individuals in the borough taking initiative and organising their own knife bins being set up.