Sheffield unites in the fight against knife crime

Sheffield united tonight in the fight against knife crime blighting the city in a debate hosted by The Star. Â

Monday, 10th September 2018, 21:31 pm
Updated Monday, 10th September 2018, 21:57 pm
Chief Constable Stephen Watson, Councillor Jim Steinke, Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings and Star editor Nancy Fielder

Sheffield united tonight in the fight against knife crime blighting the city in a debate hosted by The Star.

Police chiefs, an MP, the Police and Crime Commissioner, community representatives, relatives of victims and a former gang member turned youth practitioner were among those at tonight's special debate.

As part of The Star's '˜Drop the Knife' campaign, aimed at keeping young people alive, key players in fight against knife crime discussed what is being done in the city, what more could be done and listened to members of the public, community representatives and those involved in youth work who all had their say.

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Brave relatives of murder victims - one man who was stabbed to death and another who was shot - spoke of their heartache and how the bloodshed needs to stop.

Martina Dalton, the wife of 31-year-old Sami Al-Saroori, who was stabbed in his heart and died one year ago today, spoke of how she had to break the news to their six-year-old daughter, Amelia, that her father had been killed.

He was knifed outside a flat in Wensley Gardens, Firth Park, by 22-year-old Khalid Mokadeh, of The Oval, Firth Park, who was jailed for 27 years.

Fighting back the tears, Martina said: 'My life from last year has been broken, just broken.'

She said her daughter screamed when she was told her '˜dad had gone to heaven'.

'She screamed and asked if I was coming back home and if she was getting a new daddy.

'All the young people carrying knives and thinking you are clever you need to step back and realise what you are doing to families

'You are taking a victim's life, that person's family's lives, your own family's lives and your own life because once you are behind that's that's no life.'

Sami's emotional mum, Sabrah Al-Saroori, also urged those who carry knives to put the weapons down.

'They need to stop it, they need to stop carrying knives and acting like they are clever,' she said, before describing knife crime in Sheffield as an '˜epidemic' and '˜out of control'.

'Where do you start? My kid is not here today, that's all I know.

'It has to be all of us - mothers, fathers, teachers, parents - to get together and we have to stop this.'

Lynn Hamblett, whose grandson Jordan Thomas was shot dead in a car on Derek Dooley Way four years ago, said the 22-year-old was like many young men who carry knives and got caught up in the '˜glamour' of being in a gang.

'Every time I hear about another young boy being killed I cry inside, this has got to stop,' she said.

'It has to start at school. It is no good appealing to their better nature once they are in that scenario when it is about the guns and knives you have to get them younger.

'They have to respect themselves, to want a better life.

'This can't and mustn't be allowed to go on.'

Chief Constable Stephen Watson said police and partners are committed to tackling knife crime together.

Detective Superintendent Una Jennings said: 'No one at school grows up with an ambition to be a murderer.

'There are things we can do collectively to make sure that is not the case.'

Youth practitioner Lloyd Samuels, who works with young people in Upperthorpe, said youths in the city have become '˜entrenched in gang warfare' because they have been '˜ignored' for too long.

He said there is a '˜lack of understanding by statutory agencies' of what the '˜real problems are'.

Mr Samuels, a former gang member himself, said taking responsibility for tackling gangs had become a '˜hot potato' with nobody wanting to accept responsibility for a long term plan.

See The Star on Thursday for a a full report and special knife crime supplement.