The founder of Oasis Academies, Rev Steve Chalke, has warned that banning ‘zombie’ knives and machetes will not end knife crime, the Guardian reports.
Chalke’s comments come after the fatal stabbing of two Bristol teenagers on Saturday, 15-year-old Mason Rist and 16-year-old Max Dixon. Both boys were students at Oasis Academy John Williams, which is based in one of the most economically deprived areas in the city.
Chalke emphasises that knife crime is a ‘tragic symptom’ of a wider crisis facing young people. He has stressed that, alongside bans, there needs to be an investment in youth workers who can build relationships with young people and work with schools. He advocates for trying to ‘catch kids early’ with therapeutic interventions from as young as key stage 1 and key stage 2 to identify children that are struggling.
Oasis Academies, which have 54 schools across England, have previously been affected by knife crime when in 2021, Zaian Aimable-Lina a 15-year-old pupil at Academy Shirley Park was stabbed to death in Croydon, which came just a few months after a former pupil, was Damarie Omare Roye, 16, was also fatally stabbed.
Chalke’s comments echo those of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, who spoke to the Independent in November 2023. In response to rising knife crime in London, he urged, ‘We must look at the root causes of criminality without excusing it – the causes are complex, but they include deprivation, poverty, lack of opportunities, and alienation’. He said what was required was ‘a combination of prevention and intervention along with enforcement.’
In January of this year, actor Idris Elba and politicians made calls for urgent action to tackle knife crime, including banning zombie knives and machetes and investing in youth services.
The Guardian reports that a Home Office spokesperson has assured that the Home Secretary is ‘determined to put an end to this senseless violence’ with bans on certain knives and ‘early intervention and prevention.’
Also in response to concerns about rising knife crime, Labour have recently announced their action plan to halve knife crime. They pledge to do this through a combination of harsher punishment for carrying knives and with a focus on prevention which will aim to ‘tackle the causes of knife crime early and systematically’ by looking to prevent young people from ‘drawn into knife crime.’