Knife crime epidemic 'top concern' for young people

By Neil Puffett

| 25 October 2018

A ballot of more than one million young people has identified rising levels of knife crime as their "top concern" to be debated as part of the annual sitting of the UK Youth Parliament.

The UK Youth Parliament has held an annual debate in parliament since 2009. Picture: British Youth Council

The British Youth Council, which organises the UK Youth Parliament, said a total of 1,111,580 young people took part in this year's Make Your Mark ballot to decide issues to be debated during the annual sitting in the House of Commons, making it one of the largest youth consultations of its kind in UK history.

Figures published last week by the Office for National Statistics show that police recorded almost 40,000 knife or "sharp instrument" offences in the 12 months leading up to June, the highest number on record.

Alongside knife crime, the other issues that young people voted to be discussed are:

  • Mental Health - that services be improved with young people's help, and be available in schools.
  • Equal Pay - giving young people the same amount of pay, if they are doing the same work as adults in the same job.
  • Tackling Homelessness - making sure every person should have a place to live.
  • Votes at 16 - giving 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in all elections and referendums.

The sitting will take place on 9 November. Once each issue has been debated, a vote will take place to decide which issues should become the UK Youth Parliament's priority campaign in 2018.

Speaking on behalf of UK Youth Parliament, Brahmpreet Kaur Gulati said: "Knife crime in the UK continues to escalate and for far too long, the threat of knife culture has not been addressed by decision makers and this needs to change."

Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, chair of the British Youth Council, said: "It's phenomenal to see so many young people take part in this year's Make Your Mark survey, in which we had the highest number of young people ever taking part.

"Young people from across the UK voted in record numbers to ensure their voices were heard, and decision makers must take note of their priorities."

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