Youth violence will rise in Birmingham if cuts to local services continue, warns community leader

A community leader from Birmingham has told ITV News he is worried about the impact cuts to local services will have on youth violence in the city.

Mohammed Zafran, also known as Zaf, began steering youngsters towards sport and education after his brother-in-law-was stabbed to death in 2010.

He has so far worked with more than 42,000 young people in the city and says an increasing amount are being tempted towards a life of crime.

He said: "With all these youth centres being closed down, a lot of these police stations being shut, all these job cuts, that's not helping.

"And our youngsters come up to us and they are saying 'look if we leave these criminal activities, what are we going to do? 

"There's no jobs out there. We're lucky we're fortunate we come to these kinds of places where they give us free activities."

Mohammed Zafran has been steering youngsters towards sports and education for more than 10 years

The sessions run by Zaf involve all different kinds of sports, including martial arts like Muay Thai.

He began working with youngsters after the murder of his brother-in-law, Sarfraz Khan, who was stabbed to death in Sparkbrook.

His efforts have seen him crowed the winner of the Pride of Birmingham awards.

Ameer Khan spent 7 years behind bars and now uses his experience to guide others towards the right path

Zaf also relies on mentors like Ameer Khan, who spent seven years behind bars and now speaks to young people about his experience, warning them not to glamorise prison life.

He said: “It was a struggle. It was not easy. People think ‘oh yeah they get a trophy for going to prison and stuff like that’.

"I was sad, I was ashamed. I wished I never was there.

“Don’t look at that guy who’s got a fancy car driving around your local block up to no good.

"Look at that doctor, that guy who’s studied at university and become a doctor or that accountant or that lawyer or maybe that footballer. Try to follow them.”

Zaf was recently made Chair of Crimestoppers' West Midlands Volunteer Committee.

The charity says is helping to ensure young people have the confidence to report crimes anonymously without fear of retribution.

Alan Edwards who works for Crimestoppers says it can often be a huge help in communities where dialling 999 might not be the first response.

"It might not necessarily be that they don’t want to talk to the police. It might be that there’s a gang who potentially be saying ‘we could be doing damage to yourself or your family.

"So we just offer that option where they can come and report the crime to us and they can remain completely anonymous."

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