'You risk your life if you don’t carry a knife' - choice youths say they face as stabbings rise

  • Watch ITV News' Max Walsh's report as he spends an evening on the streets of Gloucester with anti-knife crime group Increase the Peace

Young people in Gloucester have told ITV News they fear the issue of knife crime is escalating in the city, with some saying they feel left with no choice but to carry weapons in order to feel safer.

ITV News West Country spent the evening on the streets of Gloucester with Increase the Peace - a charity which tries to take knives off the streets.

Delroy Ellis, its founder, says people as young as eight are now carrying the weapons.

During the evening, Delroy and his colleague Lewis had a tip off that a knife had been stashed in a park bush.

Delroy Ellis says people as young as eight are now carrying the weapons.

Delroy says bushes tend to be a 'perfect' space for hiding a weapon, as it is easy to conceal and can be grabbed at short notice.

The pair rushed to the spot of the reported blade, but it was too late and the knife had already been taken out into the city.

"Young people will leave their knives in places like this", Delroy said.

"You can see it’s quite an isolated area on the other side of the park. This would be the perfect place for young people to stash knives where people probably would not look."

During the same evening, ITV News spoke to young people - some of whom said they feel safer leaving their home if they have a weapon on them.

Some young people told us they feel safer leaving their home if they have a weapon on them.

"You are risking your own life if you aren't carrying a knife around", one young man said.

"Some people think they’re immune to it. But it can happen to anyone", he added.

"A lot of people carry knives now. It’s a scary fact. You’ve gotta stab someone or you’re gonna get stabbed. You’re risking your life if you don’t carry a knife."

Another young person was asked if he carried a knife, to which he replied: "no comment."

He was then asked whether or not he worries about his own safety on the streets.

"It’s always in the back of my mind", he replied. "You just gotta keep your self protected."

But Delroy says he and his team are concerned about the way in which young people choose to protect themselves.

Back at his car he takes out the latest zombie knife he had retrieved just a few days earlier.

"This is to hurt to someone", he said. "If you’re pulling this out, That’s saying come any closer and I’m going to hurt you.

In the city centre, more young people expressed their concerns to us about the issue of knife crime - something they say is getting "a lot worse".

"My friend died of knife crime a few years ago and it’s taken a big toll on myself", one person said.

"Knife crime has got a lot worse. I witnessed the machete attack on Barton Street", another added.

Another person said: "People carry knives everyday. They think it makes them safe. It does but it also increases the risks of people getting stabbed."

When asked if he was carrying a knife, he said: "Of course I am carrying one now.

"Honestly cos guys wanna stab me up. It’s either stab them or be stabbed. I’m not about to risk my life, I’m going to risk theirs."

Delroy's colleague Lewis says knife crime is getting worse among teenagers in the city - with zombie knives becoming a particularly prevalent concern.

"I could order one now and get it by tomorrow", he said.

"By Monday I could have it through my door and not have to sign for it. It’s more profound within the youth.

"Within Gloucestershire and Gloucester we’re seeing a knife crime between 13- 18 year-old's where as before it would be the younger adults say 18 plus. "

Increase the Peace also runs workshops and outreach work to help combat the rise in knife crime.

Ramarni Crosby was a hugely popular teenager who loved dancing and music and was training to be an electrician. Credit: Gloucestershire Constabulary

Two years ago, 16-year-old Ramarni Crosby was stabbed to death in Gloucester just months after leaving Severn Vale School in the city three years ago.

Many of the students there knew the teenager and his family, and at an anti-knife crime workshop held at the school, some said they've also experienced the dangers of knife crime first-hand.

"It didn’t end up just in a fair fist fight. It started out like that but then the individual backed out a kitchen knife and i was stabbed in the elbow", one student told ITV News.

Another pupil described a different incident: "He had a bag with him, the bag was behind him and he reached into his bag  and pulled a knife out.

"And at this stage it was a fight or flight situation and I just got the first flight out of there and ran away."

Richard Johnson, headteacher of the school says he aims to approach the issue head-on.

"We know there is knife crime in our community", he said.

"We have an ex-student who is a victim of that. Want we want to do is to educate and inform young people."

Among those speaking at the workshop was Tyrone, who’s been stabbed twice, once with a glass bottle and another with a meat cleaver.

He wanted to warn these teenagers about the risk of being coerced into gangs and how one attack he suffered stays in his memory.

"I got to eighteen and I was like no, I’m not going to be bullied anymore.", he said.

"He didn't like the fact I stood up to him. So he broke a bottle in a nightclub and stabbed me in the stomach and my bowels came out. It was terrifying bro.

"I got to the door of the nightclub and the bouncers are pushing me out the club. Luckily there were two police officers by the door otherwise I might have died that night."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told ITV News during a visit last week that the government is committed to tackling the issue of knife crime, but admitted 'more must be done'.

He insisted knife crime overall is coming down - with the help of more officers on the streets.

"We are making progress, knife crime overall has come down - partly because we have put more police officers on the streets", he said,

"20,000 more officers, of which around 160 odd are in Gloucestershire for example.

"We've given them more powers, stop and search which is helpful. All of that has helped contribute to the fall, but every child, every person who dies tragically to knife crime is a child too many so me must keep doing more."

He added that the government is giving police more powers and increasing sentences for offenders.