Tooting’s young people had a chance to discuss crime and its impact on their lives with police officers and their Member of Parliament, Sadiq Khan, this weekend, at a special service organised by the Yahweh Christian Fellowship (YCF) and the anti-gun and knife campaign group, You Have A Choice (YHAC).
The service aimed to build bridges within the Tooting and Wandsworth community and between local police officers and young people in the community, with a Q&A session on crime, and speeches from Sadiq Khan MP and Peaches from the performing arts/social exclusion group Reality Bytes. The service was ended with a performance by In'Sight, a South-East London based R&B duo.
The police officers held a lively debate with the congregation, which provided an excellent opportunity for young people to give their feedback on how they feel the relationship between young people and the police is, and to ask questions on a number of issues, including stop and search.
Peaches from Reality Bytes gave a presentation on her life story, why she turned to crime and how she subsequently escaped it.
Sadiq Khan MP, who gave an inspirational speech to the congregation, said, “It is clear to me that the vast majority of young people throughout the country are decent, law abiding and responsible members of our communities.
“The Yahweh Christian Fellowship and You Have A Choice recognise this, and do fantastic work rebuilding a the relationships between our young people and older generations that seem to have been damaged in the past.
“As much as anybody else, young people want to be respected, listened to and given a say on the issues that affect them in their day-to-day lives.
“We can’t let a tiny minority cloud our vision, leading to the demonisation of all young people due to the poor behaviour of a few.
“Events like this are a fantastic way of improving communication between generations, and between young people and those in positions of power and authority locally.”
Natalie Mayhew from You Have A Choice said, "It was a much needed service and provided the first steps in building bridges between the community, police, the Member of Parliament and young people in the area.
“It was great to be able to have our say with the Police and to hear how Sadiq is helping to shape our Community. People kept asking me, “When's the next one?!!”"