Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Intervene Early to Turn Teenagers from Knives'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Intervene Early to Turn Teenagers from Knives'

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH

GORDON BROWN today defended Government plans to tackle the roots ofknife crime despite claims that the measures were "half-baked".

The Prime Minister, who has rejected calls for automatic jail sentences foranyone carrying a blade, stressed instead that the key was to intervene earlyto turn teenagers off violence.

During his monthly Downing Street press conference, Mr Brown supported HomeSecretary Jacqui Smith's plan to force children to meet stab victims inhospital and visit offenders in prison.

It is understood Mr Brown is keen to broaden the debate on knife crime andfocus on better parenting and better youth facilities while Alf Hitchcock, theGovernment's new knife czar and the Met's Deputy Assistant Commissioner, todaycalled for a form of "national service" to get teenagers who are neither inwork nor in college to help their local community or travel abroad on aidprogrammes.

The Government's proposals were impelled by the death of London's 20th stabbingvictim this year and a 17-hour period last week during which four men wereknifed to death.

However, they have come under fire from victims' families and the Tories andLiberal Democrats.

Critics pointed out that the idea of making children visit hospitals had beentried in the US with little or no success and the Royal College of Surgeonsbranded the plan "distasteful" and "morally, ethically and legally suspect".

Donald MacKechnie, Clinical Vice-

President of the College of Emergency Medicine and A& E consultant in Boltonwhere there have been three stabbings in the past three daystold BC radio: "I don't think it is a a good idea for potential or actualperpetrators of knife crime to be marched through to see these patients who areextremely vulnerable. It's tantamount to secondary victimisation. …

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