Knife Crime & School Exclusions Parliamentary Panel

(January 2020)

Our first parliamentary panel meeting surrounded the topic of knife crime and school exclusions. The meeting was held with various individuals including MPs, business owners, local government, charities and community/art organisations. The meeting began with brief introductions from panel members, who explained their interest in the issue. The panel included two members of Parliament, Sarah Jones (Croydon Central) from the APPG on Knife Crime and John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead). The main body of discussion surrounded the questions submitted by registered guests.

Questions Proposed

  1. “Why are resources put into dealing with exclusions after the fact rather than into schools to effect early intervention?”
  2. “How may we ensure sustainable funding of greater proportions for our young people? WE need more funding for the ages of 7-19 years old.”
  3. “There are various organisations all over London who are doing things to tackle knife crime?”
  4. “I would like to ask if anyone on the panel knows if there is any research about the links between the destitution caused by the hostile environment’s no recourse to public funds policy and young people picking up knives and being excluded from school?”
  5. “How do you think we can start to reduce the number of school exclusions?”
  6. “Do you feel more training opportunities for local residents to assist in schools will help to provide support for staff in overcrowded classrooms?”
  7. “Considering the Home Office is currently drip-feeding funding to local partnerships tackling knife crime and other forms of serious youth criminality, local partners are incentivised to engage in short-term strategies and initiatives which are unlikely to be effective long-term. What is being done nationally to combat knife crime in the long term?”


A consistent dialogue took place at the meeting surrounding the proposed questions. There were notable contributions from the guests but also panellists who had experience in different government and industrial sectors. Dujon Harvey, Head of Employment engagement at Hackney council spoke of his experience advising cabinet members and the mayoral office he was accompanied alongside his colleague Anish Pillai, Senior employer engagement officer. They addressed the importance of efficient local government intervention.

Sarah Jones, Member of Parliament for Croydon Central discussed the work of the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) on Knife Crime. She highlighted interrelated issues such as funding, family problems, academisation and school performance. She informed the room of recent initiatives lead by the APPG group including regular school visits to parliament to engage pupils in politically inclusive dialogue.

John Cryer, Member of Parliament for Leyton and Wanstead, chaired the meeting and spoke of the strong correlation between school exclusions and vulnerable teenagers becoming involved in dangerous lifestyles. He highlighted the need for more vocational skills-based courses in further education. Michael Burgess, from Africa Fashion Week, works in the creative industry and regularly liaises with community engagement projects alongside different government and arts bodies. He informed the meeting of several funding routes available for youth projects. He emphasised the need for collaboration between the different bodies to create creative channels and assisting smaller organisation with paperwork and administrative matters related to funding applications.

Angelo Da Costa (Founder of Vocal Communities) who has previously stood as a Councillor candidate for Chingford, spoke about the aims of the VC platform to bring together different institutional actors, the public and business stakeholders to create effective dialogues with long term aims. Uzma Rasool (Co-Founder of Vocal Communities), who works as a corporate award-winning private education consultant and educator, discussed the importance of representation in the classroom and in the police force, to change and diversify institutional cultures to ensure young people feel like a valuable part of society.

Tesfa & Kischa Green, from the Jaden Moodie Movement, enlightened the room about their personal experience with the issue, after the death of Jaden Moodie, a young schoolboy who was killed after becoming involved in gang violence. They spoke about the work they do with young people and local communities. They also hold extensive experience working in the primary school sector and run regular ‘Nature’s Playground’ sessions and walks where they encourage children to explore local parks and forests and take part in group activities.

Elizabeth Ige, A life coach working with Vocal Communities and founder of ‘KnowYourWorth’, spoke about the importance of having support networks for parents and flexible working structures. She provided insight into her experiences working in the financial sector while having a family. Ige also highlighted key policy gaps when dealing with the issues of youth violence and school exclusions, specifically related to the impact of austerity and economic factors such as school funding cuts and a lack of resources for lower income households. She emphasised the importance of school and parental collaboration through various programmes focusing on mentoring and assistance.

Akeem Wangeh, who works in the apprenticeships sector also contributed to the panel, highlighting the importance of groups like Vocal Communities to create a facilitative platform for various organisations and stake holders to contribute to government policy and business strategy.

Rebecca Thapa (COO of Vocal Communities) administrated the meeting. She executed effective digital marketing through mediums such as Eventbrite to attract a strong attendance and ensured the smooth running off the meeting by collecting data and submitted questions she also ensured maximum networking engagement took place. Several registered guests contributed to the discussion, with a diverse range expertise from parents, charity sector workers and local council employees.

Conclusions & Next Steps

Attendees and panellists concluded their meeting by agreeing on various points:
  • The need for increased collaboration between different organisations at senior and median level across national and local government, business, non- profit organisations and charities.
  • The importance of having elected officials at national and local government level who regularly engage with initiatives and programmes that tackle the issues of knife crime and school exclusions, to ensure the design and implementation of effective policy.
  • The creation of various pathways to engage at-risk young people. Through various industries such as the arts, business and technical channels.
  • Prioritising the role of local businesses in building training and employment opportunities for young people.
  • Regular activities and programmes within schools which create a strong sense of community and national belonging to prevent young people viewing themselves as outsiders. To ensure they foster a sense of self awareness, responsibility and discipline to become proactive members of society.
  • Vocal Communities adopting a consultancy role, to meet outlined objectives to facilitate long term solutions and collaboration between relevant stakeholders.
  • Vocal Communities aims to hold a follow up meeting to invite existing and new registered guests to follow on from the successful discussion to facilitate a platform for collaboration and shared advice between various stakeholders.
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