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Sheffield community leader calls for action on knife crime

Saeed Brasab of the Unity Gym Project in Broomhall
Saeed Brasab of the Unity Gym Project in Broomhall

A community leader has questioned council chiefs on what they are doing to tackle the growing concerns of knife crime in Sheffield.

Saeed Brasab, of the Unity Gym Project in Broomhall, told a council meeting there needed to be a more holistic approach to deal with the problem.

“What steps does the council intend to take to tackle this growing problem?” he asked a meeting of the full council. “What initiatives are forthcoming?

“We want the council to work alongside community organisations and individuals like myself to address the growing concerns about youth violence and knife crime.”

Mr Brasab also questioned whether Sheffield was still a safe city.

“We are continuously told by Sheffield Council and the police that Sheffield is the amongst the safest cities in the UK,” he said.

“This might be for some neighbourhoods but certainly not the neighbourhood that I work and live in.

“The success of a public health approach to knife crime would suggest a more holistic approach is needed. Surely now is the time to try new ways of working together to safeguard young people, families and communities that are facing this challenge.”

Sheffield Council is looking at the Glasgow model where there is a public health approach to knife crime and the police work with those in the health, education and social work

Council Leader Julie Dore said: “We know it’s an extremely complex issue however it’s become more of serious issue for Sheffield. It’s a tragedy when anyone loses their life, for them, their family and the community. Everyone suffers.

“Sheffield was deemed to be the safest city in the UK on particular measures and indicators regarding safety. That doesn’t mean that serious crime, and the way as it affects some communities more than others, shouldn’t be responded to in a very serious manner.

“You are right about working with other partners on this complex issue because we know there are so many organisations involved in addressing the cause of it, particularly youth offending. The council has never professed to have all the answers and we are working with all those concerned to collectively address the issue.”

Sheffield peer and Lib Dem councillor Paul Scriven called for swift action.

He told the Local Democracy Service: “We need to prick this bubble of complacency. Glasgow decided this was a public health issue and tackled the root cause rather than just the problem.

“The public health approach needs to be the police, social services, housing, health and education working together and co-ordinating together these young people. It’s not just about stop and search, it’s about a  team of agencies working in a coordinated way.

“Young people need a ladder of opportunities with skills, confidence and a route out of this. We need to make this plan a reality and increase the pace of change.”