Community fights back against knife crime - and considers private security patrols of Milton Keynes streets
The city's sickening double murder and wave of knife crime has prompted a community group to consider paying for private security guards to patrol estates and towns all over Milton Keynes.
Guards would wear uniforms and be a "visible deterrent", they say.
The anti-knife crime initiative, called Keeping Kids of the Streets (KKOTS), is calling for everybody in MK to rally together and find ways to raise the necessary funds to combat the growing problem of weapons and gangs on city streets.
In the meantime, experts are urging all parents to search their teenagers' rooms for knives and weapons.
A special Facebook group called 'Milton Keynes youth and getting kids away from crime ideas' has been formed for people to give their ideas.
The page states: "This group has been created to encourage any youth organisations, children's organisations and adult groups to promote their events or classes and put forward ideas to make Milton Keynes safe again. Hopefully everyone can work together to get children, youths and offenders off the streets into safe environments and reduce crime across Milton Keynes."
One of the people behind the mass community effort is Neath Hill dad of four Karl Hanif.
He runs KKOTS, which provides free boxing sessions with coaching from volunteer experts to youngsters aged from seven to 18 on Monday evenings at Fishermead's Trinity Centre. It also offers free football sessions on the Willen Lake Astroturf on Saturday mornings.
Karl is convinced that teaching children discipline through boxing or sport early on is the key to ensuring trouble-free teenage years. He also believes that many youngsters take to drugs and street crime simply because they have nothing else to do.
"Drugs are so connected to gangs, knives and crime. We have 13 year olds being given drugs by 17 year olds and the 17-year-old being given drugs by men in their 20s. We need to stop this cycle and offer these kids an alternative."
For two years, Karl has been putting his money where his mouth is and largely funding KKOTS himself. Now he is urging businesses and individuals to rally round and donate enough cash to build a specialist youth centre where young people can meet and train.
He and fellow volunteers are holding a special meeting on November 30 at Unit 9 music venue in Old Wolverton for professionals and anybody connected with children and young people to brainstorm ideas.
Karl is particularly keen to hear from anybody who holds a security badge and would be willing to volunteer for private patrols.
"Private security patrols of estates could make a real difference. These kids just run away from police, but our security officers could be approachable but a visible deterrent to them."
For details of the Facebook group visit https://www.facebook.com/Milton-keynes-youth-and-getting-kids-away-from-crime-ideas-113914900034525/