'How many more lives?': Connor Brown's mum calls for action following North East stabbings

The mother of Connor Brown, who was fatally stabbed in Sunderland in 2019, has called for more to be done to tackle knife crime, following the recent deaths of two North East schoolboys.

Tomasz Oleszak, 14, was fatally stabbed in Gateshead in early October and Gordon Gault, also 14, died on Tuesday 15 November, six days after being stabbed in the Elswick Road area of Newcastle.

Tanya Brown told ITV News Tyne Tees: "Every time, and it seems to be happening more and more, it is like a blow to the stomach for us and I just think how much more?

"How many more lives are we going to lose due to this knife crime? How much more can these young people, you know, what can we do? What can we do to stop this?"

Connor Brown was trying to break-up an alleyway fight when he was stabbed. Credit: Family photo

Her calls are supported by organisations across the region, who are already taking preventative measures themselves.

Phil Reid, a boxing coach at Grainger Park in Newcastle, regularly has around 40 young people attend his gym. He has run an anti-knife campaign - Off the Streets - to teach children about the dangers of knife crime and other crimes.

He said: "We wanted to show people that there is a different way you can defend yourself, if need be, we obviously don’t condone fighting, but if you need to defend yourself, you can do it with your hands.

"You’ve no need to use weapons. No need to carry knives. We engage with them by learning them rules, life skills, teaching them discipline, respect. You know, they’re part of a team in here and we’re all friends."

In Teesside, security firms have joined forces to roll out metal detector wands and anti-stab packs at the venues they provide security for.

Jack Nivens, who is the director of one of the firms, said it is "extremely concerning" because not only are his teams trying to protect venue staff and customers, but they also need to keep themselves safe.

He said: "In terms of knives coming into the venues, you can see up to, maybe, potentially, two a week. They don’t typically make it into the venue, however, obviously it’s putting us at risk.

"We have use of the equipment, such as metal wands, we have anti-stab packs, obviously for people’s safety. People are trying to gain access to the venues containing weapons and sharp objects is definitely, there’s been a significant increase."

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