A council bid to reduce knife crime among teenagers will target children as young as TWO, the Citizen can reveal.
Following the weekend's shocking double murder, MIlton Keynes Council has admitted it "must do better" to stop knives and gang in the city.
The council plans to look at ways to reduce knife sales locally, and will join forces with police to organise two more school-based officers to work with young people across MK.
But councillors agreed early intervention was the key. Deputy council leader Hannah O'Neill said statistics show there is a link between communication difficulties in very young children and teenagers who get involved in crime.
She said there was "work going on" to identify children aged between two and four who are having communication difficulties.
“We want to stress that we are open to ideas. If you’ve heard of a scheme or a process that’s worked elsewhere, please let us know... Milton Keynes is a safe city and we want to keep it that way. We can’t see any more lives lost in such horrendous crimes.” she said.
Councillors from across the political divide were united in their concern over an incident in Emerson Valley on Saturday where two 17-year-old boys were stabbed to death and two more injured.
“It is with great sadness that I have to give this statement, no-one in this city should have to do it,” Cllr Hannah O’Neill at this week's full council meeting.
“On Saturday night, two young men lost their lives in shocking violence and of course we send our condolences to the families in what must be the most horrendous of times.”
Cllr O’Neill outlined some of the work that the council is doing in partnership with the police in the community. The council’s SaferMK community safety group has made violence and young people a top priority.
But she added: “Despite all this, we’ve lost two lives and we must, all of us, do better.”
Conservative councillor Keith McLean wanted to know that there were no concerns about funding shortfalls for any activities that are needed. “I seek your assurance that if any school or any youth organisation wants to avail themselves of any support that they will get it from the council,” he said.
Cllr Zoe Nolan, Labour's Cabinet member for children and families, said the council is spending £630,000 on early intervention in schools and has put £1.2million more into children’s services.
She said: “We continue to support early intervention and that will be the direction of travel. We will start early and make sure that every family in Milton Keynes is benefiting.”
But she added that instead of writing blank cheques, the council will have “focused activity.”
Cllr Nolan said that last year two young people went to prison but it could have been more without early intervention. And she said that out of 200 children and young people involved in crime, just three had re-offended.
“We want to make sure that this kind of thing is as rare as it has been in the past. This is not a route we want to see happening again, it’s devastating for all of us” she said.