Wales

Knife crime: More than 100 people join #KnivesDownChallenge19

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Media captionCampaign founder Marvin "Starvz" Heron has seen people killed and jailed due to knife crime

A Cardiff man's anti-knife crime campaign has seen more than 100 people post their own raps and songs online.

Musician Marvin "Starvz" Heron from Llanrumney knows people who have lost their lives and others who are serving time as a result of knife crime.

This inspired the 29-year-old to start an online anti-knife crime campaign called #KnivesDownChallenge19.

Ashanti Webbe, 32, said she had joined the campaign because she does not want her children carrying a knife or worse.

Mr Heron started the campaign, which encourages young people to post their own raps and songs to spread the message, just two weeks ago.

He said he has had a "phenomenal" response with more than 100 people posting their own videos.

"The reception has been amazing, and the support has been overwhelming," Mr Heron said.

"I've already had some kids message me saying they don't carry knives because of all of this."

Knife crime in Wales

Recorded knife and sharp instrument offences

Apr-March figs until 2016/17, then Jan-December
Source: ONS, 2019

There were 1,375 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in Wales in the 12 months to March this year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This represents a 20% increase on the year before - a faster rate than any English region, including London.

"That could be my brother," raps five-year-old Shayah-Nevaeh, from Newport, in her #KnivesDownChallenge19 video.

Image caption Ashanti Webbe said the level of knife crime among children is "scary"

Her mother Ms Webbe, 32, recorded a song for the campaign too. She said she worries about her 14-year-old son Leontay's safety.

"You don't want your children to get dragged into carrying a knife, or even getting into a madness where he gets stabbed or anything like that," said Ms Webbe.

"Because anyone can get stabbed, and it is rising and it is scary."

Ms Webbe believes parents like her have an important role to play in fighting knife crime.

"We have to make them see that it's not cool and it's not alright to take someone's life. It's not alright to stab somebody."

Image caption Matthew Reed used to carry a knife - until his 22-year-old friend was killed

Matthew Reed's friend David Mukbill, from Butetown in Cardiff, was stabbed to death at a birthday party in 2004, aged 22.

Mr Reed, now 40, said he used to carry a knife but said losing a friend to knife crime "puts it into perspective".

He pointed out that young people in Cardiff see carrying knives as "just a part of life".

"You could say it is a disease at the moment - no-one was expecting it to happen in Cardiff."

Children's charity Barnardo's has praised the challenge.

"I think quite often we think it doesn't happen on our doorstep, but it is," said Meinir Williams-Jones, the charity's assistant director in north Wales.

"You have extremely young children that are becoming involved and carrying knives, as young as 10 years old."

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