Campaigner’s ‘gut feeling’ violent crime will be rife in Sheffield once lockdown ends
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Anthony Olaseinde, a campaigner for safer streets in Sheffield, has voiced his concerns of a spike in knife and gun crime as venues re-open and groups begin to mix again in public places - increasing the potential for conflict.
Mr Olaseinde, who runs the Safer Streets charity, said: “Violent crime has not stopped during lockdown, we have had two murders over the last two weeks alone.
“It has dropped in that people have not been in as many situations where they felt they had to pull a knife or a gun because people haven’t been gathering at places like they used to before lockdown, but with restrictions being lifted all that is going to change.
"I want to be wrong but I’ve a gut feeling violent crime will soon be rife again like it was before lockdown. As people have more freedom the chances of conflict are going to increase.”
He said educating young people that not everyone carries a weapon is key to reducing violence.
“There are two types of people who tend to carry weapons – criminals for threats and their protection because of their lifestyle choices and young people who believe that every other young person is carrying a knife,” he said.
“The police can tackle the first group by concentrating on organised gang crime but a lot needs to be done to help the young people change their mindset so that they realise that not everyone carries a knife despite what they are led to believe.”
Mr Olaseinde, who runs educational programmes in schools and sets up knife bins for people to discard weapons before they fall into the wrong hands, said: “I don’t want young people to throw away the chance of being the best version of themselves.
“They need to understand the repercussions of carrying a weapon.”
Sheffield City Centre Neighbourhood Inspector Alison Bywater said: “As the easing of the Covid-19 restrictions continues and we see an increase in people returning to businesses and hospitality we have robust plans in place to respond where necessary to any additional demand.”