Knife crime will fall during the coronavirus lockdown, a man helping police to take weapons off the streets has said.
Faron Alex Paul, who has himself been stabbed, uses his organisation, FazAmnesty, and his Instagram page to make contact with those who want to dispose of knives but do not want to go to the police themselves.
The father-of-two told the PA news agency that now is the time for the Government to act with measures such as curfews to ensure knife offences continue to decrease after the lockdown is lifted.
He said: “With all these measures being put into place, no-one is going to go out and risk their life, and the fact that police have more authority and can give out fines, more people will stay indoors.
“You’ll see the rate of knife crime go down. You’ll see it.”
On Monday, the Prime Minister warned that people will only be allowed outside to buy essentials like food or medication, for exercise once a day, or to travel to work if absolutely necessary.
Boris Johnson said police can disperse any unnecessary gatherings and fine those not following the guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic which has now seen 424 deaths in the UK.
Mr Paul went on: “This quarantine will help stop these kids from killing each other. But what I do want to talk about is why they’ve made quick laws for the virus but no laws and extreme measures to help stop knife crime.
“If you get caught for knife crime you get let go, community service and other lenient options, but for gun offences you get five years or more.
“There is no difference between the two because they all lead to the same result – death.
The people that come to me trust me because, although I work with the police, I am not the policeFaron Alex Paul
Data obtained from a Freedom of Information request (FOI) by PA from the Metropolitan Police found that in 2015 there were 3,742 knife crime offences where the offender had not been charged because they could not be identified. This figure increased by 78% to 6,668 by the end of 2018.
In 2019 it dropped just 18% to 5,439.
In response to these figures, Mr Paul said: “Police are strained and stretched. It’s not easy. Sometimes there’s no CCTV footage, there’s silence from the community and there’s not enough police resources.”
The 34-year-old has met “vulnerable” teenagers looking to give up their weapons, mothers who have begged him to help, and those looking to get out of the gang cycle.
He takes the weapons, uses shop vouchers to reward the individuals who gave them up, and hands them to police without telling them where they came from.
Asked whether this is fuelling part of the problem of criminals getting away without being identified, he said: “When I meet them I don’t know whether they have a pending case or not. My aim is to help take away weapons from the streets.
“The fact that they have come to me, willing to give them up, does show they might be ready to change their life around.
“Police need more funding; once they have the funding they need to work with middle men like me and together we can make a difference. Once you start working with official bodies you get more done.”
Asked why he does not join the force, he said: “There’s much more to it. If I were to work as a policeman that would not help because of the stigma and the lack of trust between them and communities.
“The people that come to me trust me because, although I work with the police, I am not the police.”