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/ 11 April 2019

St Mary’s Islington hosts debate on knife violence for BBC Radio 4

St Mary's Islington Radio 4 broadcast

St Mary’s Church Islington last week hosted a public debate on London’s knife crime crisis with leading politicians, legal professionals, charity leaders and representatives from the police, as well as members of the clergy and public.

The conversation was opened by the mother of a knife violence victim, Michelle McPhillips, whose son JJ died as the result of a stabbing, and heard contributions from members of the public and clergy from St Mary’s. The event was hosted by Evan Davis and was recorded for two episodes of BBC Radio 4’s PM Programme, broadcast yesterday, and again tonight from 5pm. Click here to listen to yesterday’s broadcast.

Panel members included Shadow Foreign Secretary and Islington MP Emily Thornberry, Conservative London Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey, former head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Javed Khan, chief Excecutive of  Barnados, Mark Simmons from the Metropolitan Police, and Twaneika Alcindor, a barrister.

St Mary’s The Rev’d Caroline Shuttleworth participated in the event and called the occasion “powerful”:

“I was struck by how profoundly disturbing it was to hear from youth workers, families and young people who have been impacted so brutally by knife violence.  We must always remind ourselves of the devastating human impact of this crisis first and foremost, in the midst of headlines and statistics.

“The discussion was a valuable and touching forum in which to address an issue which goes far beyond just crime. The prevention of violence through the re-affirmation of community life through organisations such as youth clubs, schools and education programmes, as well as strong family relationships, are absolutely essential.

“Undoubtedly, the church has a vital role to play in what must be a community-wide response to the tragedy of knife violence. We must be a place of community, refuge and solace, for the victims of knife crime and their families, as well as for those who might otherwise stray down a path to violence. It’s often the ordinary things that matter, acts of everyday kindness and respect for each other. We can all make a difference.”

The broadcast formed part of a new series from the PM Programme looking in-depth at the fatal stabbing of JJ McPhillips, the community where it happened and the search for justice.

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