Father of murdered Reading boy says it's 'become the norm to carry a knife for children'

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's Ciaran Fitzpatrick

The father of Olly Stephens, who died after being stabbed in Reading, says it has "become the norm to carry a knife for children and that should not be the case".

He shared his comments as Thames Valley Police - and other forces across the country - hold a week of action around knife crime called Operation Sceptre.

The national initiative targets knife crime and those who carry knives.

Olly Stephens, 13, was stabbed to death in Reading in a killing which was planned on social media in January 2021.

Olly Stephens was just 13 when he died. Credit: Family handout

His parents, Stuart and Amanda Stephens, have shared their story with other parents at a schools session telling them what they wish they knew and how they could have intervened and helped Olly.

Mr Stephens said: "We didn't really understand the world he was being exposed to and the people that are out there exploiting him.

"So if we can share that information then at least the red flags are there for other people to act on."

He said parents should look out for changes in their children's behaviour and if they start going to "strange places".

He added: "It's become the norm to carry a knife for children and that should not be the case.

"It's quite a scary prospect. Imagine being at school knowing somebody else in the school has a knife in their pocket and if you say one cross word to them it could be you that ends up on the end of that knife.

"And it doesn't take a lot to trigger it either that's what we found really scary."

The couple are urging children to talk to somebody in their community who they can trust about these issues.

Mr Stephens said: "The kids need to talk about this stuff because a bully's biggest weapon is your silence."

He hopes that by talking with friends, mentors or even friends' parents, there will be a "chance to interject"

Thames Valley Police says it is focusing on increased education and earlier intervention to prevent crime in the first place.  

Children at five schools in Wokingham are taking part in workshops to encourage young people to make positive choices this week.

Officers are also continuing to deliver proactive policing targeting hot places, and hot people - those who continue to engage in knife crime and violence.  

Knife crime is trending down in the Thames Valley.

A major peak was in 2019 and since then it has fallen around 25% in the Thames Valley and tends to be broadly static.

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