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BACKGROUND

This analysis covers captures narratives (videos, all with implied consent) during seminars organised by the Buganda Heritage Association (BHA) and other forums on same topical issues. Variously BHA had been called upon to co-facilitate shared areas of concern to justify the need for a strategic proactive integrated, collaborative and a patterned approach in better understanding of the significant root causes and/or increase in this blighting knife crime to achieve objective solutions and/or focused means to address it.

In short, the Buganda Heritage Association (BHA) is a UK/Ireland charity involved with the promoting an inter/intra-nationalities culture, welfare and wellbeing of associated nationalities. To this end, was this initiative to tackle knife crime in London which had caused the loss of some 9 lives and serious/critical injuries of the Baganda youth. This trend was evidenced by a Metropolitan police report released between 2014 and 2016 the number of children carrying knives in London schools rose by almost 50%, while the number of knife offences in London schools rose by 26%. More the Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, called it a “wake-up call” (Gary Younge writing in the guardian newspapers –Beyond Blades’) March 2017.
The initiative ‘tackling knife crime’, as referred to here, was about finding ways of ‘keeping-in-check’ youth involvement in related/negative activities which results in what is called ‘knife crime’. After a series of workshops/seminars, the 40 videos captured a range/mix of views and experiences of and from both the youth/adults/police who attended the various sessions. Hence the analysis of the data that follows below.

The analysis uses three sociological tools:
(i) The Input, Process, Output, Outcome – which unpacks the initiatives in the various compartments to enable the reader(s) have an insight on the challenges as captured.
(ii) SWOT - Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat – which stress tests the initiatives for its robustness by unpacking the data into the various compartments to enable the reader(s) have an insight of the participant’s own assessment of the initiative.
(iii) 5A – Accessible, Available, Acceptable, Appropriate, Adaptable – this targets the ‘Outcome’ element as in (i) above; and ‘Opportunity’ element of SWOT as in (ii) above to engage the readers(s) on participant’s insight on the way forward.


INPUT, PROCESS, OUTPUT, OUTCOME

INPUT – the range of health professionals, namely, membership of the BHA, were exercised by a creeping increase on the loss of lives amongst the youth through knife crime.  This resulted from sharing anecdotal evidences from close clinical observations, social involvements in bereavements and reading of the Somali community that had seemingly ‘kept-in-check ‘Somali Youth the involvement in knife-crimes and/or related negative activities.  The option of doing nothing was off the BHA table, hence the rolling out of the seminars/workshops to study/seek a model that would ‘keep-in-check’ youth involvement in knife crime and/or related negative activities.  The challenges here was networking the various community interests, finding the resources i.e. space, finance, materials, time; access to statutory agencies such as police, social workers, counsellors, etc; assembling the youth who would be interested or find discussing knife-crime interesting to attend.  Evidently the appropriate resources were assembled and in turn the relevant/appropriate officials from statutory agencies were available to take part in all the sessions and/or proffered formats, unsurprisingly graces by parents, the youth and professionals.

The critical observation was the sensitivity to the range of inputs, notably, of Muslim faith, youths  aged7-32year olds; gender – male/female;  leadership – community leaders;  role models – youth leaders, professionals – mental health workers/Social workers/psychologists/police, etc; race – white/Asian female/male.All these variously attended the various sessions.  Notably, the spread of sessions were 5 (five) in 5 (five) different London locations interspersed by time of some 6-month period.  Despite focus on the topical issue, the different sessions were attended by different participants and the only common/constant feature were the interlocutors from BHA.

PROCESS – Each session was set up with staged introductions sensitive to the mode of engagement/format to be used.  A range of engagement formats were interactive sessions, questions and answer sessions – both written/verbal, presentations on success stories and failures – personal testimonies/journeys; 1:1 interviews - post-session reflections. In each of the session all participants were encouraged to express their feeling as appropriate.  Within each engagement format was a mix of models used such as the conference model - where the presenters sat at the front facing the audience; focus group model – where a select of participants were engaged on subtle questions in the effort to find common ground/approaches on the way forward; round table model – where all participants sat in a round format to engage on issues on the floor.  In encouraging participation and focus on the topical issueof knife crime issue, the less confident such as the 8 year old boy/girl, or those likely to be intimidated by presence of mother/fathers/peers/police officers, were sensitivity tended to, suggesting, the power distance/gaps was effectively narrowed/bridged enabling the youth to share their feeling and, suggestively, the impact of knife crime to remain firmly in focus.  The BHA interlocutors constantly guided the session to stay on message of tackling youth knife crime.

OUTPUTs–The engagement starting points at each turn/session was different.  In general was the Police and the youth’s understanding of knife crime; the black people’s attitude towards the Police; inter-generational communication gaps such as between parents/children; cultural/identity disconnects such as those born in the UK and of those born outside with experiences of that upbringing before relocating to the UK; value system such as dignity/respect embedded by socio-cultural continuity versus institutional/statutory interventions.  These conundrums were captured quite well by personal testimonies/experiences of a Police Officer ‘Mr G’.

Focus on youth behaviours in relations to the starting point of a youth being involved with knife crime was quite challenging.  The role of parents or parental interventions such as noticing behaviour change, spying/checking on social medial platforms, boundaries of enforcing discipline bordering on abuse, was challenging.  Parental absence mitigated by efforts of making ends meet and responsibilities to nurture positive, civil and meaningful living versus living by comparison i.e. must have what parents cannot afford, too was challenging.  These conundrums were captured quite well by a personal testimony of a mother whose son died from a knife stabbing.

Awareness on the knife crime blighting effect on the youth too was challenging.  There were blind corners in the dialogue such peer effects where a youth is aware of or knows of an intent to commit crime/violence, yet hold back the information from parents or police.  A mode of dialogue between parents/children that can deepen family relationship away from children depending on external peers too was challenging.

Police interventions and attendant trails of fear too were challenging.  This dialogue unpacked a range of negativities, arguably admitted by the police officers who attended, as in need of cultural attention such as recruiting more ethnic police reflecting the community being policed.  Some facets of these conundrums were captured quite well by an intervention by a female police officer and of one community leader.

The guiding star such as sticking to ‘...what is most pleasing for one to live for or living for...’ that one would not want to lose.  This kicked-in a lively soul searching for the youth to nail down this quoted critical issue and the intent was to guide the youth to stay on message and focus on what one values.  Evidently 23 (twenty three) youths took part in this session and no two objective were similar, suggesting being involved in knife crime is not given but can take away what one values.  Arguably each of the youth were left to ponder on these choices facing one or in which way one turned or is forced to turn.

Imperfections as a word was not used, but have constructed from the statements that parents are not perfect and police reactions are in many cases misplaced.  There was a degree/concert of expression about human imperfections such as all involved or concerned or interested or affected such parents, police, youth, professionals, etc, to understand the situation each faces at an instant.  The identified view such as the Police Stop and Search, which intended consequence is deterrence, but unintended consequence possibly worsens the community/youth relationship.  Of youth not being conscious of responsibilities for the actions they get involved in was captured well by a caution from one youth to quote ‘...not realising what you are losing until you lost it...’

Through interlocutors/moderators:-  There were 3 separate sub-sessions each with a different question, namely, parent/children relation, single parent household and peer friends.  The summary was variously as follows:-

  1. promoting awareness of knife crime by sharing experiences of both perpetrators and victims.
  2. Any youth can be a proactive resource to share any concern on knife crime committed or likely to be committed with any professional such as a doctor, lawyers, accountant, nurse, faith leaders, etc., within the community. One example of such a proactive stance that informed this output was a White Female invited by a black youth to one of the seminar/workshop - a learning to both the Police and attendees.

OUTCOME – about impact on those who attended the various sessions and by extension, the interested reader(s) on the initiative to ‘keep-in-check ‘knife crime amongst the youth in respective communities.

Family/Police collaboration.  This was various mooted by the youth, the parents and the Police Officers.  It arises from mode of communication between and amongst all the elements interested in ‘keeping-in-check’ the knife crime.  One outstanding example that was shared of Police reactions to a telephone call about feat of crime being committed or are likely to be committed and the on-site responses which are usually insensitive and heavy handed.  To this end the first concert of views was that Police risk assessment is a matter of duty but on-site response should be tempered with sensitivity.  The second to explore/identify ‘Community Influencers’ to be engaged in a real event where a real knife has been used; in the interim to create a community-based Police model i.e. the Police that knows and are/is sensitive to the neighbourhood.  In the interim, the Police signposted attendees to a MOPAC website for information on Police Stop and Search.

During the one-to-one post-seminar interviews, was a broad agreement such as the community/youth collaborating with Police; a change in police culture in absence of recruitment of black people into community policing work, but efforts be made to use models and combat negativities about police/community relations to enable black people partake meaningful and gainful living doing community policing.

Behaviour/Character tuning was a set of powerful phrases floated in the attempt to capture the passion of the youth limited by their level of knowledge, confidence to express themselves in the presence of older people, parents and the police on this high-level/burning matter of knife crime.  This was spurred largely by the learning that the Police and attendant statutory agencies had a misplaced approach to raise awareness of knife crime, namely, that the starting point should be at the Secondary and not Primary School education level.  The concert was that this was to be seriously reflected on or revisited.  Another was the effect of teaching models on behaviour suitable to the youth and/or culturally sensitive versus imposing one, which are usually inappropriate or impractical.

Social media platform to be developed linking current mode of engagement with access to sharing concerns as well as enhancing parent/youth/community trust and communication.  Soft resource/model for professional/police/community leaders for guiding youth through the challenges of living/peer influence.


SWOT ANALYSIS a STRESS TEST

STRENGTH:- Noted by the representativeness and attendance of over 60 persons on average, a mix of gender, age and responsibilities, all considered, that some notables attended more than one session, and in the different locations around London. This was for practical reasons and to thread community engagement while remaining on the subject matter of combating knife crime. The lowest age of the youth was 7 years of age rising up to 26 years; and attendance was gender balanced with both female and male taking turns to make their cases, views and presentations as appropriate. Engagement here was a balanced input of the youth, parents, community leaders, professionals, and the Police. Partnerships were demonstrated by testimonies, which variously highlighted the challenges faced by the different attendees i.e. youth, parents, police. Data, the basis of a concert that knife crime can be ‘kept-in-check ‘as demonstrated by the Somali community that had succeeded to turning it around.

WEAKNESS–These were variously expressed as:
i. Historical negativities by the two sides, namely, the Police and Black people, which was variously mooted as a cultural gap i.e. Police training empty of how to engage Black people, was not explored.
ii. Parental fears of own children being either victims or involved in knife crime impacted by veto not to spy on social media and fear of abuse by imposing restrictions/discipline, was not delved into. Parental expectation of police such to protect/support not consistent with police operational mode/responses to situations, too was not delved into. Parental struggles to provide, and love for their children only mentioned in passing.
iii. Sources/retailing of offending knives – papered over in the negligence blame game between Police and community, but not followed up.
iv. Funding to translate the outputs from the initiatives into outcomes that can impact on community combating knife crime, and stemming resulting deaths, was mooted but not delved into.


OPPORTUNITY–Arises from a mooted statement by ‘Mr G’ of Met Police to quote, ‘..solution is present but must be discovered...’
i. Therapeutic Space in which all concerned can take time to discuss and reflect on real or suspected negativities was variously mooted such as taking place within the household, the community and inter/intra-community/Police. The BHA mantras to quote, ‘...no one can do it for you...’; cannot wait for someone else to do it...’; ‘...take responsibility on going concern...’ mooted as an appropriate guiding compass. With a degree of certainty will be peculiarities within each setting and there cannot be a format to be imposed but each can evolve. The effort is to initiate/start. Within the family the parents can or must create time such as through/during/support with school homework. The community can initiate youth centre chats during social/faith sessions. Inter/intra-police/community can kick in with neighbourhoods such as through community/youth leaders, influencers, etc.
ii. Parent/child dialogue in which all sorts of issues, fears, interests, etc., are explored not for spying purposes but showing interest in the welfare and wellbeing on their youth when outside the house or engaged in social media, etc. Help/support parents with the soft art of disciplining the youth rather than punishment.
iii. Community/Police relationship was an expression by both the community and police to continue engaged. To deepen this through dedicated/personalised links i.e. named police officers who can be called upon in related cases. Humanising the experiences/evidence the police as or can be on the side of the affected, yet maintaining their professional call.
iv. Overcoming youth challenge by reconnecting through change of language and mode of engagement such as inferences of ‘Uncle’ and ‘Auntie ‘restricted to kinship to widen them as point of respect and readiness to listen to/for advice. Embedding the oft-used adages such as ‘...charity begins at home...’ in relationship to the ‘keeping-in-check’ involvement in or all sorts of negative/adverse activities. Widening/deepening social media communications through an idiom ‘...tell a friend to tell a friend to tell a friend...’
v. Cultural leadership and empowerment was mooted through creating of ‘...Group Influencers (GI)..’ driven by statutory stands such as ‘...The Right to Life...’; ‘...Human Rights do not Discriminate...’ GI would have the trust of both the community and Police such as access to both legal and social/community advice, etc.
vi. Institutional support i.e. Scientology booklets on learning how to understand issues; MOPAC website with information on child grooming, etc., all at ready for signposting. Celebrating identity and culture such as Community Red-carpet event, Dinner Balls, music festival, etc., should be considered.
vii. Police question – what does the community want from the Police? Was Youth responses such as police racism; normal access to schooling impeded by violence hot spots; restoring faith by tacking Police profiling. Demystifying the police as not part of the solution by recruiting from the community.
viii. Professionals to found/develop a ‘Learning Sharing ‘early intervention models which increases awareness that mothers too are victims; and retunes trust Building trust between mothers and children to narrow the communication gap. More that ‘Rights ‘and ‘Responsibilities ‘are equally drummed and applies to both parents and children.
ix. Tacking the entry level of involvement in knife crime directed at policy/police to revisit starting point as being at secondary school level and not primary school as its now.
x. Legislation by policy makers to effect an Inter/Intra-communities engagements such as Police proactive in awareness raising activities that are preventative rather that reactive/punitive.
xi. Combating negatives i.e. customised crime – Black on Black. BHA involvement to aid police achieve goals on knife crime reduction, support community to enhance race relationship, combat youth feeling of being isolated, identify/manage potential mental health issues.
THREATS – arises from a range of expressions such as;
i. Black people experience such attitude towards police and vice versa. This was expressed by the youth, the parents and also the Black Police Mr ‘G’own observed disproportionate reactions.
ii. Attitude embedded in Black people that are not expected to make mistakes i.e. robotic police dealing with black people who distrust the police. An expressed view by a community leader that youth must follow the law and must behave in a way that is lawful. Youth must not fear or hide from the police, and must collaborate with them.
iii. Media sensation that knife crime is a Black on Black violence.
iv. Poverty of funding to translate the Outcome/Opportunity into Strengths to stem knife crime.

 


5A’s ON OUTCOME/OPPORTUNITY
Accessible –(i) Police - evidenced by seminar/workshop engagement that Police are responding and can/should be deepened.(ii) Parental guidance - Youth too should endeavour to reach/seek, as appropriate. (iii) Youth – evidence of seminar/workshop attendance suggests have answers that need harnessing.(iv) Professionals – evidence of attendance suggests can create time for issues that negatively impact on the community.


Available – Therapeutic spaces (i) Secondary schools where focus should shift to attendant facilities and target age groups. (ii) Faith/Community centres to be harnessed by BHAas appropriate. (ii) Professionals as community resources to share confidential/observed/experienced concerns. (iii) Information on negative activities impacting the community to share is available the challenge is constructing models for sharing.
Acceptable – (i) Commendation that police are doing a good job but the community engagement tools/mode of operation/interventions need adjusting. (ii) Culture – understanding it as a driver for respectability and accessibility

Appropriate–(i) Investment in Leadership:- All sorts of leaderships to be demonstrated by all involved/interested such as the youth, community leaders, parents, police, professionals, influencers, etc.(ii) Investment in Inclusivity/Interconnectedness:- seeing people and humanness, capacity to do good amongst and between youths, inter/intra-community/race appreciation, behaviour/character tuning, responsibility – what can I do?,
Adaptable–(i) Parents can adjust to gain a peace of mind on the wellbeing and safety of the children and challenges of living, hence evidently were willing listeners.(ii) Police can adjust intervention models by learning from seminar/workshop engagements i.e. community/cultural sensitivities.(iii) Community can adapt this seminar/workshop success model into creative engagements such as dinner balls/identity pride parade/red carpet event. (iv) Professionals can adapt social media platforms as a soft resource to:-a - engage, as well as, ‘keeping-in-check’ youth involvement in knife crime; b – grow youth aspirations, behaviour/character tuning; c- co-parent the youth challenged by family disconnects; d –monitoring community recovery and well being from the knife-crime plague; e - etc. (v) Policy makers can adapt ‘preventative’ models from the seminar/workshops in the current anti-knife crime into a legal framework.

Notes.

  • Compiled by William Masembe Nkata(Youth/Health cultural lead BHA; Mental health specialist—clinical & research; Lead on Bridging the Gap initiative and The Therapeutic Community Network Initiative (2017).
  • Video coverage by Mr Steven Mulindwa (journalist)

 

Significant:

Buganda Heritage Association Leadership for the collaborative work with others in this journey of learning, sharing and formulating better understanding
Community/ Faith /Cultural Leaders
Harris Academy Peckham for the offer of the venue
Scientology UK –London Office for the venue
Waterloo church St James hall for offer of the venue
East London Uganda Islam community youth derby Road
Avril Jones (S&S community lead Southwark)
Metropolitan Police ; Retired PC D, East London police Team led by Susan Wermter ..
Community members including Ms Uganda UK 2018..Ms Mukibii +Buganda Community Women Leadership
The youth (Above and Beyond) and their parents
Leadership committee Buganda Heritage Association uk/Ireland
Friends of St John’s Church in Finsbury Park (Kusaba mu LUganda Community).
Nabagereka Sylivia Nnaginda (Buganda Kingdom Queen)..For inspiration via "OBUNTU-BULAMU CALL 2016.....2018” a call to parents to get more supportive and involved in promoting good citizenship.