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   Inside Out - East Midlands: Monday January 31, 2005


Boy rapping
Crime city? - Nottingham is fighting back against violence

Inner city Nottingham has been scarred by gun crime over the last five years. It's a place where teenagers are losing their lives tragically young.

Inside Out investigates how one group in the St Ann's neighbourhood are doing their bit to fight in the battle against crime.

"I got kicked out of school at an early age - I got low grades. The only job I can get is something like flipping burgers. Teachers said to me "You are going to prison", but I'm here now to prove them wrong." Jourdan.

The headlines say it all - another murder, another gun crime, another murder victim. Nottingham's inner city has become synonymous with violence, gun crime and communities in crisis.

People in St Ann's have had enough of the tragic waste of human life and living in constant fear.

They know exactly what it's like to live in a community where teenagers are being killed.

This is the story of how one community is trying to help young people make a success of their lives.

Street beats

Teenager Jourdan is 18-years-old and knows the cost of gang violence.

As a youngster Jourdan chanelled his energies into football, winning a place in the youth team at Kidderminster Harriers.

But off the pitch he was becoming notorious for all the wrong reasons - he was getting involved with street crime.

Street life - youth projects can provide new hope and choices

Now he's trying to avoid getting sucked into gang violence by getting his act together, using music and football as his inspiration.

Jourdan has been going to the Youth Inclusion Project in Nottingham's St Ann's for the last four years.

He's packed in crime for rapping and DJing, and he's even been offered a paid job as mentor for the Youth Inclusion Project.

As a result Jourdan feels more valued in his own community, "I've got respect from where I am and from around my way."

Jourdan's football career is also back on track with a forthcoming trip to Jamaica for a trail with the national youth team.

He and two friends have also been asked to set up a Sunday football league. It's an amazing turnaround for the talented youngster.

Opportunity and choice

The St Ann's Youth Inclusion Project targets youngsters who have been excluded from school, and who are out on the streets.

Youth worker Seean Maxwell knows how important it is to nip crime in the bud at an early stage.

"If you are expelled or excluded for any reason there's a risk that young people will first, access or enter the drug industry, second, access the gangs, and third, we all know where the gangs and drugs lead to - it can end up in gun crime."

Fashion show jacket
New role models - teenagers get involved in fashioning their lives

It's not just about rewarding the young people with cool projects, there's a lot of hard work expected from them in improving their basic education.

"Anyone who walks through that door has to do English and Maths at GCSE level," says Seean.

He stresses the importance of giving young people opportunities, practical advice and guidance.

"People would look at these young people as real life gangsters. The way I see it, they're only children who want a bit of advice and a role model.

"And if no one is going to go in and offer them that, they're gonna find that role model elsewhere."

The centre is keen on young people moving up to become mentors once they've demonstrated their own commitment. They then have the opportunity to be the role models for the next set of young people.

Designed for success

Many of the activities involve music, fashion and design, and offer an alternative to the drugs and criminal culture of inner city neighbourhoods.

Youngsters from the scheme recently designed waistcoats for Nottingham Big Issue sellers as part of a fashion project.
Art work at youth project
" If I wasn't coming here, I'd probably be on the streets every day, slanging, drug dealing. "
Jourdan, Youth Mentor

Fashion has also proved to be a good way of making money for the young people, and it gives them a foothold on the entrepreneurial ladder.

As one teenager put it, "I don't have to work for anyone else no more. I can be more own boss".

It's proved so successful that the project has started taking children form local schools, and three of the designers are launching their own fashion label.

Seean Maxwell has seen how these creative projects can help young people shun street crime, "To see them turn around and to see the lights start to click on - it's a joy to watch. We actually see miracle happening.

"Never give up on these children because everybody deserves an opportunity."

Wasted youth

But as the Youth Inclusion Project started to be successful, a tragic event took place.

Photo of Danielle Beccan
High-profile campaigns have highlighted access issues

Danielle Beccan, a 14-year-old member of the project, was shot dead as she returned home from Nottingham's Goose Fair.

Danielle died of a gunshot wound to the stomach after she came under fire from a passing car.

The mother of murdered teenager Danielle Beccan says her daughter's last words were, "I love you, mum".

The shooting left the city in shock, and thousands turned out to pay tribute to Danielle at a special vigil.

In a bitter twist of fate Danielle was buried in the suit which she designed at the centre in St Ann's.

"If we stand together, we can beat gun crime in our city."
Notts Police and Nottingham City Council

Danielle's mother, Paula Pratt, said she hoped that her daughter's death would highlight the problem of gun crime in Nottingham.

"It's time we got our city back to how we want it to be," she told BBC News online.

She stressed the need for people to stand together against gun crime, and send out a message that this senseless loss of life must not happen again.

Gun crime

The murder of Danielle Beccan is one of a long line of gun crimes in Nottingham.

Police dealt with more than one shooting a week last year and there have been some shocking fatalities over the last three years including:

  • Brendon Lawrence, 16 - killed in 2002 after being shot in St Ann's.
  • Marian Bates, 64 - shot dead in 2003 at her jeweller's shop in Arnold whilst protecting her daughter from armed robbers.
  • Marvyn Bradshaw, 22 - shot dead outside a pub after a case of mistaken identity.
  • Joan and John Stirland, 53 and 55 - shot dead at their home in Carlton in 2004.
  • Donzal Munn, 25 - shot dead in his car in Radford in 2004.
  • Omar Watson, 24 - shot dead at a hair salon in Radford in 2003.
Gun crime

Latest statistics:

  • There was an average of one shooting every week in Nottinghamshire in 2004.
  • In December 2004 Nottingham held a gun amnesty aimed at discouraging gun crime.
  • There was a 3% increase in gun crime between 2003-2004 in England and Wales.
  • Between 2003-2004 there were 10,590 firearms offences in England and Wales.
  • In 2003 the Home Office introduced a mandatory five year minimum jail sentence for anyone caught in possession of an illegal firearm.
  • Between 2002-2004 police officers for Nottingham's Operation Stealth recovered more than 300 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
  • A Times survey found that a firearms offence was committed once every five hours in Great Britain in the six days after Danielle Beccan's death.

In October 2004 thousands of people held a protest against guns in Nottingham's Market Square.

A major gun amnesty followed the shooting with a poster campaign with the theme "Not in Nottingham, Not in My City".

Leader of Nottingham City Council, Jon Collins said, "We need an amnesty to give a clear message to those who are involved in gun culture that they are involved by choice.

"We are giving them the chance to get rid of their guns for the sake of the community and for their own benefit too because people involved in gun crime don't tend to live to a ripe old age."

However the gun amnesty saw only 40 weapons handed in.

Nottinghamshire Police say they are disappointed with the response to the latest campaign to get guns off the city's streets.

Future generation

Since the shooting the politicians have been getting involved in the debate about gun crime in Nottingham.

Ironically Jourdan, the teenager whose teacher said he's end up in jail, has been giving advice to the Home Secretary.

Hopefully his insights into the problem will help save other teenagers from the tragedy that befell Danielle Beccan.

Talking about Danielle's shooting, Jourdan tries to see the positive coming out of the situation, "I'm still feeling broken up but I'm trying to stay strong right now.

"I've got a dint in the heart, but I'll help the young ones to stay strong."

So how does Jourdan see the future? "It's about living cleanly, getting everyone to work together and cleaning up this community.

Like everyone in Nottingham he does'nt want to see any more deaths, "You win by putting down your guns. The killings and violence needs to end."

See also ...

Inside Out: East Midlands
Youth football

On the rest of Inside Out
Replica guns
Gun crime

Fighting gun crime
City's vigil for victim Danielle
Disappointment over gun amnesty
Beccan funeral
Blunkett tells Danielle "I Care"
Dying Danielle cradled by mother
City's long line of gun killings

On the rest of the web
Nottinghamshire Police
Nottingham City Council
Gun Control
Times Online
Home Office
Nottingham Online

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Jourdan has made a good decision on choosing the right way to go in life and helping the youth, i think that jourdan will set a good example to all the other youngsters living in st anns not to get involed with drugs, gun crimes and other violence happening in st anns and all areas, we need to let people know that it is ok to go out and not let parents worry about what happens to there children on the streets of st anns and all the other areas. I hope the best for st anns and every where that has a bad repretation on drugs guns and violence i hope mr maxwell and jourdan get this comment.

kaylee tucker
i watch the programme inside out and also think that jourdan as turned his life around by chooseing all the right things for his life and helping the youth in his area might learn them not to get invovled with any drugs, guns and violence. as knowing jourdan my self i no that he will do a good job on helping the youth and will stick to his job because after looseing heis brother and good friends he dont want to see any more peoples lifes being taken by guns drugs or violence.and i hope the cummunity can put all ideas toghther and make st anns a better place because st anns hasnt always bin a bad place and people could let ther children out without fear and walk the streets with ther heads high knowing that thay will get home safely. well its bin 4 years since ive left st anns and ther has bin a big change over that space ov time and growing up there wasnt a bad place. well i hope the best for st anns and any were else that has the same situation and i hope mr maxwell and jourdan get to see this comment

melanie goolding
please pass my comments onto Sean Maxwell,working on the youth inclusion project,featured in the programme 31/01/05. I thought that you were very inspirational and your attitude to the young people was excellent.As a nursery nurse i always admire others who can relate to young people.The age group you are targeting is a very challengimg one,and one that i am,myself interested in getting experiece in.After listening to you speak about them,and seeing the respect that they have for you,prompted me to write to you and congratulate you on the work that you do.

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