Why anti-knife activist Darren Gee says youngsters should ‘Choose A Life Not A Knife’

BirminghamWorld speaks to anti-knife activist Darren Gee who has moved to the city from Liverpool

Ministry of Justice figures for West Midlands Police show young people were involved in 3,060 knife crime cases which resulted in cautions or convictions between July 2010 and June 2021.

And 1,498 of those punishments were handed to children aged between just 10 and 15. Recent tragic cases include 15 year-old Keon Lincoln who was shot and stabbed to death near his home in Handsworth.

In response to the figures a government spokesman said it was combining tough enforcement and early intervention programmes to get dangerous weapons off the streets and divert youngsters away from crime.

BirminghamWorld has spoken to anti-knife activist Darren Gee who has moved to the city from Liverpool and is also raising awareness about the issue through his ‘Choose A Life, Not A Knife’ campaign.

The latest national figures show nearly 38,500 punishments were issued to youngsters for knife and offensive weapon crime since July 2010 – 3,600 in the year to June.

Darren Gee, from Selly Oak, says: “Well Choose A Life Not A Knife UK is a message to raise awareness. It stems from an attempt of suicide by myself. That’s when the campaign came into my life - five years ago.

“I’ve grabbed hold of it. It’s so important to my life. Since then, Choose A Life Not A Knife has followed on. It’s gone into different subjects within communities - likes of grooming, likes of bullying, drug dealing, all these pitfalls that the youth find themselves facing on a regular basis.

“I’ve been here for two years now. I’ve heard certain messages standing up to the mark, but nothing is really impacting the way it should do.

“So now all I’m doing is hoping that me screaming ‘choose a life not a knife’ around the city centre, handing flyers out raising the awareness about the gang culture, about the drug dealing, I’m hoping to provoke the mindset of some decent community leaders.

“It doesn’t matter what background you’re from - you’ve got the youth that are going out with a mindset of a gangbanger already entrenched in that sort of lifestyle. But then you’ve got the youth that aren’t involved in the gang banging that are scared of the gang banging.

“And feel that when they’re on the streets now, there’s no police. There’s no safe places to go like community centres. There’s no initiatives to keep them off the streets or help them into employment - like giving them an avenue to drive, and licences, letting them engage with driving and qualifications so they can get employment at the age of 16 or 17.

“There’s loads of causes, but the bottom line, from what I’m seeing, is the main cause of violence within the communities whether it’s knifes or guns - all sorts of violence situations - is drugs, and the people that peddle them.”

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