A clothes shop in Lewisham Shopping Centre has started working with a charity that provides young people with a safe place to go to if they ever feel threatened by violence.
Crep Select is the first shop of its kind to work with the charity ‘For Jimmy’, which was set up in 2009 following the murder of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen from Eltham.
He was murdered in Lee Green, South East London.
The charity gets shopkeepers to protect young people who feel they may be attacked by locking the door and calling a parent, guardian or the police.
Lawrence Roulland, the owner of Crep Select, told ELL: “Schemes like this should be more prominent.
“Young people also come into the shop to calm down or talk about an issue. My shop is seen as a safe place to go in the local area, it’s well respected and we have no theft. Security guards in the shopping centre need to be aware kids need their help.”
Home Office minister Victoria Atkins visited the shop yesterday as the police launched a seven-day ‘crackdown’ on knife crime.
She emphasised the importance of community responses such as Crep Select. She told The Metro: “Many forces this week will send officers into schools to talk about knife crime and the consequences of carrying a knife.”
Many Crep Select’s customers are between 15 and 25 years of age and are among the most exposed to knife crime offences.
Knife crime has come under the spotlight following a string of 14 murders in 16 days on Britain’s streets over the last few weeks.
Teenagers, including 17-year-old Jodie Chesney who was killed in east London, have featured frequently among the victims.
Superintendent Darius Hemmatpour, of the Metropolitan Police’s Violent Crime Task Force, said initiatives like ‘For Jimmy’ are “extremely important.”
He said: “It’s not always about enforcement, it’s important that we’ve got diversion opportunities and that kind of engagement with young people.
Police have experienced severe budget cuts which have caused a notable decrease in police numbers.
The number of officers in the 43 territorial forces in England and Wales has fallen by more than 20,000 since 2009.
Some critics have blamed the policing crisis as one of the main causes of the rise in knife crime.
This hasn’t stopped Operation Sceptre which has seen thousands of weapons seized and placed in amnesty bins since it began in July 2015.
Superintendent Darius Hemmatpour, of the Metropolitan Police’s Violent Crime Task Force, said: “I think the fall in police numbers has an effect on the situation but we just have to be more effective.
Weapon sweeps are a form of reassurance. It’s vitally important that the public and community see us actively out on the streets.”
All forces in England and Wales are taking part in the clampdown. This includes the use of surrender bins, stop-and-search powers and weapon sweep to target habitual blade-carriers.