A former gang member has described the Home Secretary’s new measures to tackle knife crime as “a joke”, and said that the funding might as well go straight to knife crime offenders to “change their lives”.
The orders could include, curfews, geographical restrictions, and restrictions relating to social media use in order to prevent the "rapid escalation" of rival disputes.
Sephton Henry now works for Gangsline, a non-profit that provides help for young people stuck in gang culture. He told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “It is a joke really because that is not going to stop someone carrying a knife. We have deprivation, we have people going through real hardship – do you think they care about that [social media]? They don’t care about that.
“No way was I going to stop carrying a knife because someone said I can’t go on social media.”
He added: “It gets you really upset because what they really need to be doing is putting funding into grassroots operations with people that have been on the streets and know the people.
“Even give the money to these people who are doing these things. I know it sounds crazy, and they should be punished, but at the same time the amount of money you are spending on them, you might as well spend the money to change their lives.”
'There is discrimination'
Home Secretary Sajid Javid during a visit to Brixton police station, south London, where he unveiled new Asbo-style orders designed to tackle knife crime. Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.
Mr Henry went to prison seven times and says he got into a gang when it felt like he had “no prospects”.
“We feel like second-rate citizens so it starts at home. If there is a bad environment at home then it is going to lead you to the streets,” he said.
“If your parents are in poverty, if you are in a deprived area and growing up in an environment where violence is around you, then you are going to move towards that way.
“The next thing was there were no prospects so when I tried to make it in life, no one was allowing me to.
“In society, if you are a fat lady you are not going to stand next to the CEO, they don’t want a fat lady next to them.
“There is discrimination. If you have got dreadlocks, you are not going to be the boss. So when you are trying to make it up the ladder you can’t.”
'I have been shot at multiple times'
Mr Henry did not think deterrents like restrictions on social media would stop offenders picking up a knife.
“I have been shot at multiple times, I don’t care – you know when you just don’t care about life, you have lost all hope,” he said.
“You are in a society that is not allowing you to prosper. You are going to do what you want to do. In that you just become reckless.
“These are the effects of deprivation. It is the effect of class struggles.”
He added that it should not be about “punishment” but about guiding those stuck in gangs.
“As society we judge and punish people instead of disciplining and guiding them. When my child does something wrong, I discipline him and guide him in the right direction, I do not punish him and condemn him.
“If I condemn him, I leave him in that condemned state. What is need is those young men to be able to make it.
“Make Sephton Henry a CEO, make me a Prime Minister so that those young people can see people like themselves as MPs.”