Chief Superintendent Paul Money: Tragic consequences of knife crime

VIGIL: The community of Harehills, Leeds came together for a vigil for murdered teenager Irfan Wahid. PIC: Simon Hulme
VIGIL: The community of Harehills, Leeds came together for a vigil for murdered teenager Irfan Wahid. PIC: Simon Hulme
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We’ve recently seen a teenage boy convicted over the killing of 16-year-old Irfan Wahid in Harehills.

What his death illustrates very starkly is the tragic human consequences of young men carrying knives.

There is a double tragedy here, in that one family has to cope with the loss of a child in such sudden and violent circumstances and another family with the fact their son will rightly be held to account for his actions when he is sentenced next month.

In this particular case neither boy had any links with crime or gangs, but more often than not those involved in knife crime do.

If there is any good to come out of this terrible event, it’s perhaps in recognising the very dignified way in which both families and the community came together in the aftermath.

We saw large numbers of people gathering peacefully in public at organised vigils to call for an end to violence - something that seems indicative of the broader strength and resilience of the Harehills community as a whole.

While Harehills is overwhelmingly a vibrant, inclusive and diverse community, there are challenges for the police, which are often linked to wider social issues - as in many other inner city areas.

Where we are fortunate in Leeds is that the scale of organised criminality, and particularly street gang-related activity involving young people, is much less prevalent than it is in some parts of London and other major cities.

However, we’ve always recognised that we can’t be complacent and we’ve working hard on a daily basis for a number of years to manage the risks and protect the public. That work is both visibly through our neighbourhood policing teams but also by routinely doing work that is often unseen by the public.

Police action alone cannot address these issues and the council, politicians and other key stakeholders continue to play an important role alongside local communities themselves.

This is one of the reasons why I have been keen to promote the Ending Gang Violence Strategy in the city where stakeholders come together to discuss issues and work on the problems. This work forms a major part of our ongoing efforts to keep people safe and divert young people away from gangs and violence.

Statistically someone is much more likely to become a victim of knife crime if they themselves carry knives. Education around that message is an absolutely vital part of the equation.

We do need to ensure we are doing everything we can to hit home to young people the dangers of gang culture and knife crime so that they, their families and our communities can avoid the tragic consequences we have recently seen.

That’s a challenge we all need to take some responsibility for.

Chief Superintendent Paul Money is the senior officer in command of policing the Leeds district, which includes neighbourhood policing, serious crime, safeguarding and response policing.

Born and bred in Leeds, he oversees the work of more than 2,000 officers and staff dealing with more than 200 crimes and 600 calls for service every day.

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