Youths speak out: Reporter Andy Bloss spoke to two young people who have been involved in knife crime.
Both in their early 20s, the two men used knives in their teens to rob people and shops.
It comes after six stabbings involving young men and boys in Croydon last month, prompting to police to bring back knife arches in schools for the first time as part of major operation since 2008.
Speaking anonymously, they lifted the lid on the mindset of carrying a knife and why they changed their lives around.
- “I did not feel any remorse for doing it as I was defending myself"
"I was attacked when I was in my teens by someone who was carrying a knife but I got the knife off of him and stabbed him in the leg.
“I did not feel any remorse for doing it as I was defending myself really.
“Before that though I would go on the street and do certain bad things like robberies with knives and stuff like that.
“I would not call myself someone who went out with a knife for no reason, most times it was because I was going to rob someone or something but I have never stabbed someone apart from that one time.
“It was not gang related but he did not like me as I was from a different area.
“But I have stopped that now, I don’t see the point of doing these robberies and carrying knives around. My aim is to tell young people not to go the same way as I did.
“I have changed my outlook on life.
“There are certain things I think you need in life, courage, discipline, respect for others, integrity and loyalty. I try and use that everyday in my life now.
“I just wanted money when I was younger. I wanted money to spend on little things I wanted to do. I did not care what the victim was thinking as if they came back to me I would do something worse to them.
“I knew in a sense I was protected. I know now that is the wrong outlook to have, but I was young then, I was 15.
“A lot of my mates were doing the same stuff. I was not a follower but I did what I needed to do. I never got caught either. When I was doing the petty robberies, the olders would tell me is it worth going to jail for. So I would always think if it was worth it or not.
“Fortunately I did not get caught.
“I knew I could not do that for the rest of my life. I could not rely on robbing people to give me a steady income.
“Only one of my friends said they would change their outlook. My other friends are still doing what they do.
“I think the only thing that will stop or prevent knife crime is to get olders, real olders, to go into schools and chat to kids. It needs to be someone in their prime right now and someone that is known and can have an influence.
“People are not going to listen to some 30-year-old who claims to know what it is like. These things need to be real.
“I think preventative work is important. It is not as simple as arresting and putting people in jail, there needs to be more other work done.
“You cannot tell someone what to do. You need to show these young people the consequences. Take them to a prison, show them injuries of knife crime, talk to victims families. That would have shook me up.
“The most crime happens around the estates and I will be honest with you I don’t see police officers and youth workers walking round the estates.
“A lot of young people want to be the coolest people on the street, they want a name, they want to be known.
“It would be great to see projects which relate to what the street boys want. A lot of street boys want to be rappers, get some music projects sorted, a lot of street boys want to be hench, get some sport activities arranged.
“I have never seen no one. I don’t think the council really care to be honest. Everytime I see them it is to put up a sign saying don’t play football here."
- “All these stabbings in Croydon, they happen for a reason."
“When I was younger it was much easier to rob a house if you had a knife on you and stick up the whole house, there is less trouble that way.
“I did it numerous times. Houses, shops, corner shops, they are the easiest things to rob, especially when you stick a knife to someone’s throat.
“I was 14 when I robbed my first house, it was the easiest thing to get money. But I got myself out of it and found work, if I didn’t have that then I would definitely be in jail right now.
“It is not all about the money for me. One time my friend said he needed money and asked if I would help rob a house, I just helped a friend.
“It did not cross my mind about what the victims were thinking. If they don’t give you the money then you hurt them.
“But again I knew I could not do this for the rest of my life. I wanted to find a career and I knew robbing houses is not a career. I would tell that to young people now but they have to make their own decisions. I grew out of it.
“Young people carry a knife as they want to protect themselves and they cannot afford a gun. A knife is a easier thing, you can get it out of your kitchen.
“If there is an older person saying carry this knife, then they will carry it. Some kids think they will only get a few months for carrying a knife, that is nothing. It is a fly by.
“It is not always older people telling you want to do. I remember one time we robbed this boys house who went to our school. We would just walk past someone house and see they had a nice tv in there and we would just go in and take it.
“For me personally, when I was that age, if a victim came up to me and said I had hurt them, I would not have cared.
“All these stabbings in Croydon, they happen for a reason. Usually something has been said or done for that to happen.
“This stuff is always going on and I know for a fact that it does but I don’t see it reported. The fact that it was younger people meant it got more publicity.
“I think if there is more work in schools then young people will snap out of it. I am not talking about one off chats but if a lot of work goes into these young people to keep them busy and focused then it keeps them away from getting involved in crime."
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