Met chief told six-year-olds are ‘made to carry knives for older youths’

Britain’s top police officer has been told that children as young as six are carrying knives, as she vowed to try and halt a rising tide of stabbings.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan police commissioner, heard the claim at a community meeting in London as she tried to demonstrate the Met was on top of the issue and listening to people.

Knife crime is rising nationally and in the London area a series of stabbings of youngsters has caused alarm among communities and police chiefs.

The meeting in Wandsworth, south-west London, was in an area where three youths have been stabbed to death so far this year, the same number killed by knives in the whole of 2017.

The commissioner was told by Barbara Madeloff that children aged six, barely of school age, were carrying knives for older youths. She said: “They are carrying them for the older ones, they get instructions to carry them.

Dick said: “That is horrific. It is a safeguarding issue. It is extraordinarily young.”

Others said children as young as 10 or 11 were harbouring knives. Dick has said tackling rising violent crime is a priority and the Met is under pressure on the issue.

One youth worker in the audience, Josh Osbourne, said youngsters were put off talking to officers, potentially to give intelligence, because police were cold and distant. “Train your officers to be more sympathetic,” he said. “A lot of them seem text book, like they are detached.”

Later Osbourne said of the meeting with the commissioner: “It’s about as much use as a chocolate tea pot. She’s not taking it in.”

Another youth worker, Rebecca Smith said: “It might just be for PR (public relations) but she wants to listen.”

Dick said police can only surpress knife attacks but longer term solutions will have to involve others: “Our fight against knife crime is ingrained in our neighbourhood policing and runs through everything we do.

“From our diversion schemes, and gang enforcement, to our protection of vulnerable people and our partnership with schools. This problem is not about standalone police action and it is clear that people around London realise that.”

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