STOURBRIDGE’S MP held a knife crime summit with community organisations and the police at the town’s football club to help find ways to get blades off the streets.

Midlands Air Ambulance, Chief Inspector Balraj (Billy) Sohal - local policing lead, Inspector Leanne Nicklin – lead for serious youth violence, and Stourbridge Football Club chairman Andy Pountney were all at the summit organised by Tory MP Suzanne Webb.

Mark Brindley from the James Brindley Foundation, Brierley Hill’s Team Pumpkin ABC Boxing Gym and the Stourbridge Cinema Project team also attended the event at Stourbridge Football Club on Thursday.

Suzanne thanked those who attended to “come together to tackle the scourge of knife crime in the West Midlands in such a knowledgeable and expert way”.

She said: “With such brilliant and committed people and organisations involved we can make a real difference and get knives off our streets and keep our young people from serious injury or worse.

“The group discussed the need to involve parents when it comes to changing children’s behaviours as parents often think their children will not be affected.

“I discussed the need to get the James Brindley Full Circle anti knife programme into more schools as this is a brilliant way of educating young children around the consequences of carrying a knife.

“But we also agreed we cannot police our way out of this issue – there needs to be a whole community approach to tackling this and that is why it was tremendous to see just that at the summit.”

Organisations attending highlighted their efforts to combat knife crime to date, with Midlands Air Ambulance Charity reporting on the training it provides on how to use bleed control kits and its roll out of kits to schools and community groups.

The meeting was told the boxing gym works with police, schools and Dudley Council for Voluntary Service to provide activities to keep young people off the streets. It has been taking referrals from the police three times a week, at no cost to the children’s families, the summit was told.

Stourbridge FC and the cinema project said they hope to spread messages regarding knife crime through their community facilities.

Suzanne said she would write to Stourbridge headteachers to try to organise a round table with the group, specifically with the police and air ambulance, to have an honest conversation about knife crime and youth violence.

The air ambulance charity suggested starting a similar scheme to ‘Ask Angela’ in pubs where community hubs, like the cinema and football club, could signpost people needing help in a safe and anonymous way.

The Justice for Ryan campaign was unable to attend the summit but spokesperson Jason Connon said it had the full support of Ryan’s family who have suffered first-hand the heartbreak caused by knife crime – having lost their son who was fatally stabbed in a Stourbridge bar in August 2017.

Football club boss Mr Pountney said of the summit: “It is very important to us at Stourbridge FC that we get the message across to our community and to the wider country - put the knives down, carrying knives costs lives.

“Seeing the devastation it has brought to the families of Ryan Passey, Cody Fisher and many others - it is time to stop.”