Councillor column: enough is enough!

Finchley Church End councillor Jennifer Grocock on supporting parents and tackling knife crime

Jennifer Grocock, a Conservative councillor for Finchley Church End ward in the London Borough of Barnet
Cllr Jennifer Grocock – Conservative, Finchley Church End

As Barnet Council’s lead on community safety before the local election last year and – following the new Administration of Fun’s succession in Barnet – becoming the shadow lead after that election, it is gut-wrenching and extremely sad to read what seems to happen every day: that one of our children has had their lives cut short by a knife.

As the adage goes: “it takes not just a family but a community to raise a child.” How many more of our children will be slain? Enough is enough. We all need to take back control of our children. When I say that, I mean not in a physical way, but in a ‘delivering through calm and considered communicating’ way.

We need to explain conscious decisions and reasoned ways of how a member of our community should and is expected to behave – be they in North, South, East, or West London – explaining right from wrong from the get-go. No manual is given when a child arrives but we all should know how to behave and impart that skill set.

If, during those formative years, a parent or carer struggles with caring for and guiding their child or children, who do they contact? How are those agencies reaching out and advertising their services and roles to those parents and carers in need? What more can be done to assist those parents? What can be done to help parents intervene and make sure that children do not think taking a knife with them is the safest and right thing to do?

The Met is now focused on community policing, but we must realise that in most cases of knife crime, the police are the last port of call and not the first. Hindsight is 20/20, but hindsight cannot save a child’s life after the fact. Various bodies must come together within our community and work together to try and save lives.

One notion that I think may help in this community effort would be for all of the borough’s family services to circulate their contact details to all those who register their child’s birth, highlighting all the services they can help with throughout their child’s life. That early hand of help can go a long way in preventing a young life from going to waste.

For those currently in school, there are so many knife crime prevention groups across London who work diligently to educate our children on the dangers of knife carrying and knife crime, but it has become apparent that children who are minded to carry knives are not easily swayed by these worthwhile interventions. There is no fear or regard for their actions. It is time the attitude around prosecution and the consequences of criminal actions was changed, and that attitude must start within our communities.

Perhaps it is time to enable all those young people who have committed such crimes and are now making their way from pillar to post in prison to either actively discourage the use of such weapons or pay a heavier toll for their transgressions – and not be left in a life of pseudo-luxury while communities are hurting.

As I write this article, I think of the friends and family of Elianne Andam who are currently holding a vigil of remembrance for her. These things should not be necessary for those so young. We must hold ourselves responsible.

After all, it takes not just a family but a community to raise a child–ENOUGH is ENOUGH!

Jennifer Grocock is one of 3 councillors representing Finchley Church End ward, along with Eva Greenspan and Dan Thomas (also Conservative).

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