‘Nazi-free’ timelines should leave Non-Germans asking questions…

 

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Author and columnist Virginia Heffernan tweeted this in December. A tweet, which subsequently went viral:

In her tweet, Heffernan was drawing attention to the sheer amount of far-right and Nazi- sympathising accounts on the social media site. It is true that you can log on and see scores and scores of hate-filled posts and targeted abuse towards minority groups which have not been taken down.

There are many ways that these far-right accounts ‘subtly’ identify themselves, such as with images of Pepe the frog, an image which is now regarded as a symbol of hatred. To the untrained eye these accounts may go undetected if their posts don’t reveal their inclinations first. However, the more you know about the nuances of far-right memes, inside jokes and linguistic signifiers you begin to see just how widespread the community is.

It is no secret that social media sites such as Twitter have been under fire for not cracking down on online abuse hard enough and there has been significant pressure put on those companies to remove the perpetrators faster. However, the UK crackdown hasn’t been as swift or as hard-line as the German response to the problem.

Germany has some of the world’s toughest laws on hate speech including defamation, incitement to commit crimes and threats of violence. Social media giants can now expect the imposition of fines of up to 50 million euros for failing to remove hate speech promptly. This has meant that those companies have been scrambling to get their sites in order and hatred-free so as not to feel the weight of potential loss of profits. In fact, Facebook hired hundreds of new workers based in Essen, Germany, to grapple with the workload the new legislation requires.

Virginia Heffernan’s viral tweet brought attention to not only the amount of far-right accounts on her timeline, but also reiterated a clever social media hack – just reset your country and profile location on your Twitter account to somewhere in Germany and a large proportion of those accounts will disappear off your timeline. The accounts will still exist on the site, however you will be notified that the account has been ‘withheld in (country)’ Although the algorithm doesn’t ensure 100% far-right removal, it does noticeably decrease numbers.

Harriet

For a while Twitter seemed to be staving off criticism regarding their sloth-like tackling of online hate speech by insinuating that they were trying their best, but ultimately the popularity and size of the platform made it difficult to regulate. It seems strange then, that actually, they are able to find, correctly identify and withhold various far-right accounts and regulate them accordingly.

The problem seemingly is solvable and not necessarily linked to a lack of resources. When companies such as Twitter are bound by a law with significant financial penalties – it seems that hate speech crackdowns can be achieved quite easilys.

If Twitter is able to regulate and restrict in this way, it can be argued that they should bear more personal responsibility for what is on their platform and not only care when it is contingent on certain laws and fines. The majority of people understand that inciting or allowing the incitement of racial/religious hatred isn’t right or good. People seem to understand that sentiment independent of specific, explicit prohibition and/or monetary loss; so why only do what is right in the face of repercussions and not enact it as a blanket policy to foster a safer online environment?

Freedom of expression is not an untouchable, sanctified entity where anything goes. Although some loud individuals may feel that they are entitled to their opinions and to express them however they so wish online, hate speech and inciting discrimination of minority groups is not a protected loophole within freedom of speech law. Inciting racial or religious hatred ultimately infringes upon the freedom of expression of communities who are being targeted.

The simple answer is that maybe these companies do not actually care, but pretend to care when financial penalization may occur. However, societal and user demands are progressing and the weight of public outcry is forcing change. It is time for social media companies to bear more of the responsibility in keeping people safe and free from discrimination – and not only because a country’s law mandates it.

JAN Trust’s pioneering Web Guardians™ programme is designed to spread awareness amongst mothers, families and communities about the dangers their young people may face online and how to safeguard them. Find out more here: https://jantrust.org/project/web-guardians/.

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Posted in discrimination, Education, Extremism, Facebook, Far right, Hate Crime, International, International Affairs, islamophobia, JAN Trust, Online abuse, Online hate, Politics, Society, Terrorism, Twitter, Uncategorized, Web Guardians | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One JAN Trust employee’s experience of Islamophobic hate speech

One of our employees was subject to anti-Islamic rhetoric whilst carrying out off-site research outside Westfield shopping centre in Stratford in March. Her story illustrates how normalised and ubiquitous anti-Islamic sentiment is and how much work still needs to be done to tackle Islamophobia in this country.

Earlier this year, I was working on an off-site research project for JAN Trust across London. On the 15th March, my colleague and I were outside Westfield shopping centre in Stratford speaking to visibly Muslim women. I had only been in the area for a couple of hours when a man approached me and interrupted my interview to ask me what I was doing. I replied, but asked him to leave so I could finish my work. He then stated, ‘You are biased, what about the people who suffer under Islam?’

I immediately felt uneasy and scared as he continued to stand right next to us, listening and waiting, in an intimidating manner. Being a young woman, this fear was magnified and I felt especially vulnerable.

He began to lecture me in an oratory style which implied to me this was rehearsed and a topic of great interest to him. He proceeded to state exceedingly anti-Islamic views including the hateful and utterly misguided view that it is the agenda of Islam to take over this country. He was getting louder and I felt panicked thinking about how I could get out of the situation and hoped no Muslims could hear his bigoted views.

He remained in the area for a few hours, watching us. He interrupted me again in a confrontational and increasingly intimidating manner, demanding that I speak to him and not ignore him. We left the area as I felt threatened and was worried that he would follow me and the situation could escalate.

It is important to note that there was an incident at Stratford train station in February, where a visibly Muslim woman was viciously verbally and physically assaulted. This was right next to the Westfield shopping centre, so you would think that the centre would prioritise tackling Islamophobic hate speech. However, when we contacted Westfield shopping centre to notify them of this issue their reply didn’t acknowledge the problem and merely deflected the issue. We have also tried to get in contact further to no avail.

The recent rise of Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslims is something we at JAN Trust work every day to change. It is telling for me that I, a white non-Muslim woman working for this cause, was harassed by this man. If I experienced this targeted harassment, it only goes to show that the problem for visibly Muslim people is much, much worse. Muslims have long been telling us their stories about Islamophobia and hate speech and those voices need to be listened to, amplified and taken seriously.

It is frankly unacceptable that British Muslims currently live in this environment where bigotry and hatred towards them has been mainstreamed and normalised. Not only is it in the streets, but the British media pedals misrepresentative narratives surrounding Islam, Islamophobic hate speech is all over social media, and unfortunately it is now a cemented part of daily life for a large proportion of Muslims. A lot of non-Muslim British people do not seem to understand the gravity and extent of the sustained and targeted discrimination against a group of people which is happening in our country right now. These are not isolated incidents carried out by a few ‘bad eggs’ – the problem is systematic and pervasive. This is illustrated by the growing number of people who are being radicalised to hate Muslims and the rise of far-right ideology. We all need to play our part in taking this problem seriously and not standing by while innocent Muslims suffer.

I am proud to work for JAN Trust, who tackle these issues on a daily basis and provide essential services for marginalised BAMER and Muslim women. To find out more about the work we do visit our website here: https://jantrust.org/.

Posted in Crime, discrimination, Hate Crime, Inclusion, Islam, islamophobia, JAN Trust, London, Muslim, Muslim women, Racism, radicalisation, Society, Violence, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to JAN Trust Romesh!

 

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JAN Trust is delighted to welcome on board new ambassador comedian Romesh Ranganathan. The last few years have been incredible for Romesh with two series of his BAFTA and RTS Nominated series Asian Provocateur receiving critical acclaim.  In 2016 Romesh embarked on his debut solo tour selling over 100,000 tickets and being awarded the Ents24 Hardest Working Comedian Of The Year.  The DVD/Digital release of the show is still flying high in the comedy charts with the highest sales of a debut in recent years.

Romesh embarked on his career in America last year appearing on ‘James Corden’s Late Late Show’ as well as performing at the world famous Greek Theatre.  2018 is already proving a busy year with him filming his new BBC2 series ‘Romesh’s Really Rough Guide’, Sky 1 commissioning a six-part series of ‘Rob & Romesh Meet’, becoming the new regular on ‘A League Of Their Own’ as well as writing and starring in his own Sky 1 sitcom ‘The Reluctant Landlord’.

JAN Trusts CEO, Sajda Mughal, has said “I would like to thank Romesh for recognising the vital work the JAN Trust does in educating and empowering BAME women, and for supporting our work in becoming an ambassador, Thank you!”

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, british, Campaign, Campaigning, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Inclusion, JAN Trust, Sajda Mughal, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Shroud Of Dishonour – What really happens behind the curtains?

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Two prominent social and cultural patriarchal constructs play a role in all aspects of a woman’s life in the South Asian (SA) community; they are izzat (honour) and sharam (shame). Izzat and sharam are both factors that impede the assessment of child sex abuse, domestic violence and honour killings. These were and still are widespread issues swarming the community.

A woman’s chastity is sacred in the SA community; many women are encouraged to be submissive to avoid any sexual attention. There is a cultural construct dictating how each gender must conduct themselves in this community leading to generations of double standards. The concept of sharam and izzat comes in many forms in the South Asian (SA) community. But within the confined walls of the SA community, what lies is something a bit more sinister. Many in the community tend to sweep issues under the rug in order to maintain the ‘family’s honour’ and to continue by the community’s values.

Statistics show 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused and over 90% of those children were abused by someone they knew. Many SA families are in denial about the issues concerning abuse or sexual abuse towards children and women, they are a taboo. For some, anything from inappropriate touching to the rape of a child is usually swept under the rug. These heinous acts are going unreported for many reasons. One is to maintain the honour and not to bring sharam on the family. Many children are raised in patriarchal households, where their mothers are the caregivers and the fathers are bread-winners, who unfortunately may not give the emotional attention they necessarily desire.  As a result, many children are brought up to respect and revere their elders, particularly males. With this requirement and attitude they are placed in, children are expected to not question authoritative figures, otherwise they may face harsh consequences. Children, that have been abused sexually, are more likely to grow up with mental health issues, behavioural issues or even substance abuse.

Within the SA community women too are faced with sexual abuse as well as being victims of domestic abuse. The police recorded 464,886 cases of domestic abuse in England and Wales in 2017. The sickening truth is that of the women that are raped, many are raped by male members of their families or in-laws. They receive little or no help in order to preserve the notion of the family’s honour – they are not to bring shame on their family name regardless of the atrocious acts inflicted on them. Many women are emotionally blackmailed, for young girls; they are threatened with the idea of being in a forced marriage. For those who are already married, members of their family use them losing their children against them and others use psychological abuse to prevent the victims from seeking help. For many migrant women the situation has added frustration as their immigration status may be threatened and they are constantly reminded they will have no family to go back too because of the shame they will bring along with them. Consequently they are unaware of their rights, they have no families when they arrive to the UK, they have no close friends they can contact, and speak very little or no English to be able to go to the authority to seek help. Many women are in a sense trapped in this dire situation.

For a proportion of these young women, the domestic abuse can manifest into ‘honour-killings.’ Honour-killings are a result of young women or girls transgressing the social and cultural concepts created for them, they are consequently punished for tarnishing the family’s honour. Many cases have made it into mainstream media, with the most notorious being Samaira Nazir, in 2005, whose only crime was to want to marry someone from another ethnic background. Her throat was slit by her brother and watched by two young female family members, as a warning to them. The act of honour killings is a culturally prejudicial idea and not a religious act. The practice of honour killings has no sanction in Islam.

At JAN Trust we are here to educate women on these taboo issues; empower to have a voice and to be heard; encourage women improve their skills and continuously grow. We offer a safe environment for women to come and seek help and guidance on issues affecting them, including any form of domestic violence. If you are a victim or know anyone that is suffering, we encourage you to approach us so we can help.

Posted in discrimination, Ethnic Minorities, JAN Trust, mental health, Muslim women, Society, Uncategorized, Violence, Violence Against Women | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Generation Brexit: What does it means for youth?

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During the referendum on the 23rd of June 2016, which over 70% of the UK participated in, the country saw history in the making. We will leave the EU. However, what will happen to young adults!?

A staggering 71% of 18-25 year olds, with a further 54% of 25-49 year olds voted to Remain in the European Union (EU). It is also interesting to mention, 68% with a formal education, a degree or higher voted to remain, whilst only 30% with a GCSE level or lower voted Leave.

An issue that is likely to become worse post-Brexit is housing. Being able to own a home is STILL not likely post-Brexit. There is a misconception that once “all these immigrants are out of the country” the chances of owning a home will increase. This is false. It is just as difficult, if not more so, for migrants to climb the social housing ladder. In 2016/2017, 90% of social housing went to UK nationals. Leaving the EU will not suddenly create a wave of homes. This crisis is only made worse with the ever increasing government schemes for first time buyers to purchase a house. The lack of social housing being built for last few decades and the government’s policy of austerity means not enough affordable homes are being built. With little supply of homes and an increase in demand for homes, house prices could potentially increase post-Brexit.

Quality of education and job prospects are most likely to plummet. For many young Britons, the opportunity to study and work abroad will become limited. Graduates would have had the option to join a company abroad and the lack of freedom of movement will impede on this opportunity. Study abroad programmes as well as the diverse nature of staff in the education sector will fall dramatically, as it becomes less appealing. It could also mean that talented individuals are deterred from coming to the UK and having a positive effect on educating Britain’s youth. 125,000 EU students generate more than £2.2bn for the economy, not to mention to the funding of research from the EU for science will be at stake.

Another issue that will arise post-Brexit is a lack of investment. Professor Christopher Pissarides based at the London School of Economics has said that “The biggest negative impact will be felt over the next five years, but it will persist through the lack of investment and the weaker bargaining position that Britain will have in future negotiations.” Lack of investment will lead to less opportunity; it will have a negative effect on job prospects as many companies and individuals are hesitant to bring their business to the UK. Larger companies were not in favour of Brexit as it made it harder for them to move their money, people and their products around the world. With Brexit we may see a fall in economic growth as there will be a lack of young keen workers wanting to join the UK work force from abroad.

Although a large argument that won the ‘Leave’ campaign votes was that the money going into the EU could be better spent on the NHS, the opposite is actually true. As Brexit approaches, there will be more budget cuts. More importantly it will be a huge loss for the 60,000 EU members of the NHS staff that work just as tirelessly as all other members of the NHS staff.

The overall impact of Brexit on the younger generation is looking pretty bleak, with less job prospects and education opportunities, it will be this generation that suffers the most.

Posted in Active citizenship, british, Education, JAN Trust, Politics, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The importance of integration

The long awaited government’s integration strategy is broad and ambitious in many ways, and most notably it successfully recognises that true integration relies on the involvement of all parties – integration is a two way street. The burden should not be placed on minority communities, social divisions exist across many intersections, class, age, gender, race, religion – it is therefore paramount that a strategy designed to address integration is effective in addressing all these social divisions. This green paper potentially provides a unique opportunity to successful address integration across the UK.

The green paper identifies and proposes a number of priority policy areas to help drive integration in the UK. Of particular significance, to the JAN Trust, was the emphasis placed on the importance of learning English, a fundamental part of successful integration. Learning English unlocks the potential for individuals to overcome other potential barriers when it comes to assimilating into British society. A common language creates a shared sense of identity and values, helping to nurture a cohesive society, through a collective sense of belonging. A lack of meaningful access to essential ESOL services leads huge disadvantage for many communities. In an attempt to alleviate such disadvantages, the government has proposed a new strategy for ESOL programmes.

The new focus will be on piloting and establishing unique localised English language initiatives to empower these communities. It is of the utmost importance that it is recognised that there is a significant will amongst those who lack language skills to learn, this was highlighted by Chuka Umunna in his speech to parliament on release of this strategy. Without such recognition there is a risk that we ostracise the very individuals that the policy aims to empower.

Despite this new commitment from the government in the integration strategy to improve ESOL provision, it must be noted that since 2010 there has been a 60% cut in real terms of funding for ESOL provision, causing many learners to lose out on the opportunity to learn English. A major concern with the green paper is that as yet there exists no clear detail about how policies will be funded.

In the same week as the as the government published the integration green paper, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, released an Social Integration Strategy. That also has a strong focus on the improvement to the suitability and availability of ESOL. Khan has stated that prior to the devolution of the Adult Education Budget in 2019/20 there will be a number of piloted ESOL initiatives to inform future provision.

It is a fundamental right for women who live in the UK to learn English, and more significantly it’s vital to recognise to as a society we all gain from women’s access to ESOL provision. We now this at JAN Trust, as we have years of experience in this area and cannot emphasise enough how important it is for local BAMER and Muslim women to have an easily accessible centre for learning. The importance of localised grassroots initiatives such as ours in tackling social isolation for marginalised women is absolutely essential and since 1989 we have proven that this model works. We have pioneered this as our core-work for nearly 30 years, closely working with BAMER and Muslim women and providing ESOL and skills based classes. These classes are vital to build independence, a sense of self-determination and to enable integration into modern day British society.

Therefore if the government is serious about creating a cohesive society, there needs to be a significant move by the government to begin funding currently chronically underfunded ESOL provision. English is the cornerstone of integration. Thus to see the true advantages of such policies emerge it will be necessary for all initiatives to be rolled out nationally in the coming years; successful integration across the board mandates a national strategy.

English provides a true stepping stone for integration, opening opportunities beyond language. At JAN Trust we use our English classes as a platform to allow the women we work with to fully integrate and become independent and active citizens. Meaning our beneficiaries are able to move on to further education and employment, becoming ambassadors within their communities, as well as creating safer and stronger communities. At JAN Trust we empower women using a holistic approach that tackles a range of issue that can lead to isolation and deprivation.

To find out more about our work please visit our website.

Posted in Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Inclusion, Islam, JAN Trust, London, Muslim, Politics, Prime Minister, Representation, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Violent Extremism and Gangs; widely divergent goals inherent similarities

Although it is clear that the violent extremist and gangs differ vastly in their overall goals there are definitive similarities that can be drawn between the two groups.

There are many similarities that can be drawn between violent extremist groups and criminal gangs. There are many obvious parallels. Both groups involve illegal activities, especially violence and both are dominated mostly by young men.

There have been more than 50 suspected murders in the capital this year, raising a number of questions about the causes of violent crime in London. There is fraught debate about how best to tackle the causes of violent crime and the government’s role in protecting our young people.

At JAN Trust we find it hard not to draw similarities between violent extremism and violent gang related crime, for a number of reasons. However this is most evident in the recruitment process of both extremist groups and gangs. As with extremism there are a huge variety of reasons that a young person may be drawn into a gang. However, between the two there exists one prevailing theme, the recruitment of disaffected youths, and both promising a sense of belonging.

Although these groups may appear to have widely divergent goals, there are inherent similarities between them. Robert Orell a former member of a white supremacist movement in Sweden in the 1990s said “Yes, there are differences in ideology, but if you look at how these groups are organised, and who and how they recruit – actually, they are very similar.”

There are a magnitude of reasons for an individual to become disenfranchised and lacking a sense of individual and collective identity, that leads them seeking personal significance and a sense of belonging. Such reasoning can include factors such as: socioeconomic opportunity or lack thereof, societal marginalisation, and institutionalised oppression, leaving individuals with feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability. These circumstances leave individuals vulnerable to those who are willing to exploit feelings of powerlessness and marginalisation, creating the possibility of an attachment to an extremist organisation or gangs. These groups and organisations are able to provide those lacking a sense of identity, a sense of collective belonging and a purpose.

With growing austerity seen across the country it is no wonder more and more young people are turning to alternatives outside of the mainstream, between 2010 and 2016 youth services were cut by £387m.

It is important remember these often young men are only acting as foot solider for gangster and violent extremism groups, there is deep network of violent groups and individuals that prey on these vulnerable young men. On both sides they are making a calculated decision of who they pick on to recruit.

JAN Trust the highly acclaimed Web Guardians™ programmes that works at a grassroots level in local communities to support parents, mothers and foster carers to prevent and tackle online extremism. In addition to this in 2010 JAN Trust ran a similar model with same client base to prevent and tackle gun, knife and gang crime in Haringey, where four people have lost their lives since January. It is these kinds of programmes that are able to help support parents to have a real impact on the lives of their children. Current austerity measures mean that many organisations like JAN Trust are unable to do this vital work, to truly tackle these issues of extremism and gang violence the government must resources this vital work.

We must present and alternative to help young people with identity issues, or feeling alienated to realise that joining such groups does not provide them with the answers they look for. Addressing our fraying humanity in order to protect our young people and future generations, from the danger of recruiters, extremism and gang violence is a pressing agenda. We must address disparities that exist across society and foster a politics that provides equality for all; we can no longer ignore the fraught class divides that exist in our society that result in deaths of innocent lives.

Posted in Crime, Extremism, JAN Trust, London, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Society, Uncategorized, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The UK’s violent crime epidemic hits BAME communities hardest

The rates of violent crime in UK are on the rise, with knife crime rising by 20%, gun crime rising by 21% and London’s murder rate overtaking New York’s. However, it is marginalised members of BAME communities who are most at risk of being both victims and suspected of this violence. It is vital that these marginalised communities are made aware of and educated about this issue to enact meaningful change.

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The current figures highlighting the rise of violent crime have aligned with the spate of recent murders across London where 8 people were killed in 7 days in March. The rates of violent crime in this period have been twice as much as the previous year and as it stands, there have been over 50 suspected murders in London this year alone.

One of these victims was 19 year old Kelvin Odunuyi who was shot dead outside the Vue cinema in Wood Green on 8th March 2018 – in an incident police are treating as gang-related. It is noted that Kelvin himself was not a gang member, but potentially socialised with individuals who were gang-affiliated. This sort of violence has been linked by some to an escalating ‘post-code war’ in North London, where inter-gang tensions are rising. Police in Haringey have been granted controversial blanket stop and search powers across a large portion of the borough in response to these recent attacks.

Only a few days after this incident, a 14 year old boy was shot on Seven Sisters Road and  a young man was stabbed to death outside Stratford Shopping centre. More recently, a 17 year old girl was tragically shot dead in Tottenham, which is also reported to be gang-related.

The problem is growing rapidly and should be a huge cause of concern, especially for those from marginalised BAME communities. Members of the BAME community are overly targeted as suspects of gang-related violent crime and are statistically more likely to be victims. In this recent spate of crimes across London, it has been individuals of colour who have suffered the most.

Although the country and media outlets are recently starting to wake up to the reality of the problem; it has long been brushed under the carpet. Last month, a  top Metropolitan police officer suggested that the reason there hasn’t been ‘collective outrage’ relating to the rates of knife crime in the UK is because many victims are from black communities.

Turning a blind eye to the suffering of ethnic minority communities is unacceptable and the inadequate response to violent crime so far reflects a deep-rooted racism within this country. It is time to enact meaningful change to prevent this violence – not only do the government need to tackle this issue head on, but it is also important to work with and educate marginalised BAME families who are most likely to be affected. Raising awareness about knife and gun crime alongside gang-related crime and the signs of gang membership within hard to reach communities is imperative.

At JAN Trust, we provide advice to mothers and families about various issues including violent crime which disproportionately affects their children. Through our grassroots sessions we are able to connect with marginalised families in an environment that is safe, welcoming and productive. Find out more about the work we do here: https://jantrust.org/

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, british, Campaigning, Citizenship, Crime, discrimination, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Inclusion, JAN Trust, knife crime, London, police, Racism, Uncategorized, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Knife Crime – What’s next?

Knife crime on our streets is endemic. The pervasive nature of the problem sadly becomes more apparent on a daily basis, as more young people lose their lives.  

The New Year brought about a depressing reality in London, in a short 15 hour period between New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day four young men died in unrelated knife attacks in north, east and south London. These deaths brought the total number of fatal knife attacks in the capital to 80 in 2017. In March there were more murders than in any month for more than a decade.

These events are systemic of the general trends of knife crime across England and Wales. Figures released by the ONS  show that between September 2016 and September 2017, recorded crime rose across England and Wales. With knife crime rising by 21% nationwide, and a similar amount in London.

For the families of victims this is a painful reminder that the epidemic continues. There exists a feeling that the government is doing little to help prevent the rise in knife crime. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, in an article for The Guardian argued that “in recent years as the government’s long-term approach to crime and cuts to preventative services have started to bite.” As representative of London, Mr Khan has also received backlash for failing to tackle the rise in knife crime. The aforementioned statistics are clear evidence that the government’s knife crime strategy is failing.

Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenage Stephen Lawrence, said the latest surge in knife crime across London would be taken more seriously if the victims were white, “It comes under the race issue again – look who’s dying. If that was the amount of kids who were in the white community that were dying, do you think that something would have been done?”

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has made it clear that action on knife crime is paramount, after four people were killed in his constituency. Lammy calls for the focus to move away from youths, though a reassuring rhetoric; it creates a cycle that does very little to stop the knife crime epidemic. Lammy argues that this epidemic is in fact driven by a ‘sophisticated network of veteran organised criminals’ and it is therefore those who should be targeted, there is little to be achieved by targeting ‘footsoldiers’, and instead efforts must focus on those at the top of London’s criminal networks that are exploiting our young people.

To truly address the root causes of this epidemic it is essential that those who have the ability to so have adequate resources. It is no secret that the police forces are being cut, along with Border Force budgets, leaving them with little resource to tackle serious organised crime.

At JAN Trust, through our Web Guardians™ programme we work with women and mothers to enable them to develop the skills to help protect their children both online and offline, encouraging them to have and maintain an open dialogue between them and their children about the dangers that exist to young people today. This work is vital, in protecting our future generations.

To truly tackle the epidemic of knife crime, that is destroying so many lives, we must tackle the root causes of the problem, the statistics show that the rate of knife crime across the UK shows little signs of reducing. It is time to act.

Posted in Active citizenship, Campaign, Campaigning, Crime, JAN Trust, London, police, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Welcoming our new patron Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBEJAN Trust is delighted to be able to announce The Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE is to be a new patron of our charity. We are honoured to have such an influential and determined woman supporting the JAN Trust.

Doreen Lawrence’s first son Stephen Lawrence was brutally murdered, in a racist attack, on 22nd April 1993.  Following a nationwide appeal, Doreen Lawrence set upon challenging the British justice system and the police force due to their appalling racist behaviour against her family – which resulted in the conviction of two suspects in January 2012 through the abolishment of the double jeopardy law (2005). The outcome is a true testament to Lawrences’s striking strength and persistence, even in the most difficult time, in the face of great resistance Lawrence never gave up and she continues to fight for a true social change.

Since then, Doreen Lawrence has founded and is Life President of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – a charity that gives bursaries to young people to study architecture, in honour of her son Stephen who had high aspirations of becoming an architect. In addition, Lawrence was appointed OBE for services to community relations in 2003, awarded the Freedom of the Royal Borough of Greenwich in 2012 and received a life peerage in 2013, taking office in the House of Lords as a Labour Peer in October 2013 as Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon. On 22nd January 2016, Doreen Lawrence was inaugurated and officially welcomed as the Chancellor of De Montfort University in Leicester.

Lawrence continues to fight for the improvement of race relations in the UK, often facing many challenges due to a lack of societal acceptance. Lawrence argues that there needs to be greater understanding, there are many barriers that mean that, in particular, Black youth do not receive the support they deserve, Lawrence highlights the issue of mental health in this respect. Racial aggravated hate crimes in the UK are sadly on the rise, though many barriers have been overcome, we still have a long way to go to protect all citizens from such heinous crimes and provide them with true equality.

JAN Trust is truly humbled to be able to name Baroness Lawrence as our new patron.

Posted in Uncategorized