Belfast schoolgirl quizzes MPs over rising knife crime
An east Belfast girl made up one of the 11 members of the Youth Select Committee questioning experts on knife crime.
Jodie Floyd (16), a member of the Youth Parliament since 2018, joined other 15-to-18 year-olds, who spent two days questioning witnesses, including MPs, intervention charities and young people.
Jodie is a member of the senior members committee in her local youth club, with one of her priorities being to take what she has learned in the Select Committee to contribute to a variety of new programmes in Belfast.
The UK Youth Parliament is one of the projects run by the British Youth Council, a youth-led charity for young people under the age of 25.
The sessions in Parliament come as a result of the UK-wide 'Make Your Mark' ballot of 1.1 million people aged 11-18, in which knife crime was declared as the biggest concern among those taking part.
The debate comes during what many are calling a knife crime epidemic, with figures from the Home Office showing a two-thirds increase in knife crime offences since the low point of March 2014.
During the sessions, the Select Committee covered a wide range of topics, including the influence of music and culture, whether Government was doing enough to combat knife crime, and examining how knife crime is affecting public services throughout the UK.
Speaking about the role of Government, Victoria Atkins MP, when questioned, said: "We have to recognise that there can't just be a national response to serious violence, there has to be a regional and a local response.
"So one of things we are acting on is to ensure that all the local agencies that can make a huge difference to a young person's life, whether they become involved in criminality or whether they are victims of knife crime, that they are talking to each other."
John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, praised the young people involved and said: "Every year the Youth Select Committee play a vital role in raising awareness about the issues affecting young people.
"This year, the committee's determination to tackle the epidemic of knife crime is something that I wholly support.
"I will be following this pioneering committee as they investigate the scourge of knife crime and I eagerly anticipate their report."
The findings and recommendations from the Youth Select Committee sessions are due to be published in November.