Anti-knife campaigner Danny O’Brien will have his street stall on the Cally again today.
Danny has found some eye-catching ways to raise awareness. Last month he organised a 24 hour walk between the Spurs and Arsenal grounds (Danny is a Spurs fan – nobody’s perfect!). He’s helped organise protest marches and walks under the theme Miles not Knives: and now he’s touring London with his anti-knife petition and street stall. On Monday evening I headed over to the Cally to meet up with Danny and find out more about his campaign.
(While we were there, the heavens opened with some of the heaviest rain I’ve ever seen in London! We had thunder and lightening, there was hail bouncing off the pavement, and the Cally looked more like a river than a road. So I was glad we made it to the Kink bar to see out the storm.
(I like the Kink bar. The staff are really friendly. They lend out umbrellas and even an old bike to their customers when needed. They serve tea and coffee in the early evening, handy after the cafes on the Cally have shut up shop; that’s what first tempted me in, it’s perfect when meeting the team to go campaigning. And on Thursdays they have jazz, from artists like Emma Cantons; perfect for unwinding afterwards….)
Anyway, Danny’s campaign is about raising awareness of the dangers of knives, calling for tougher sentencing for knife crime and he helps fundraise for the Ben Kinsella trust. This week, following the sentencing of Ben’s killers, the Kinsella family have asked why killing with a knife gets a lower sentence than killing with a gun: it’s a good question.
I don’t support locking up all criminals – in fact like most Lib Dems I think prison is the wrong answer for a lot of criminals. We’d all be better off if prisoners with addiction or mental health problems were in treatment programmes; instead of locking up petty non-violent criminals, we should put them to work in the community instead.
But when it comes to knife crime, I do think some of the sentences are too light, both for people who use knives and those who sell them.
We need to take practical action to tackle knife crime, without criminalising the majority of young people. Islington Council has already invested in more knife detection wands for the police, and has prosecuted shops caught selling knives to kids. Another reform that Lib Dems advocate is getting all hospitals to adopt the Cardiff system, of reporting every knife injury to the police. It’s helped reduce knife crime everywhere it’s been done. I think we should have it in Islington too.
Meanwhile, today Danny will be on the Cally again; outside the Dallas Burger Bar near the corner of Bingfield Street from about noon to 6pm.