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Family against knife crime

The family of a man who died after being stabbed in April have set up a trust to try to tackle a rise in knife crime.

Michael Allen, 32, died near a nightclub in Bodmin, Cornwall, in the early hours of 30 April following reports of a street brawl.

Three people charged in connection with his death are due to go on trial in January.

Seven men and women with suspected stab wounds were taken to hospital.

Michael’s father, Kevin Allen, 59, said it was when the family heard how many other people had been hurt in the incident they felt “a desperate need to make a difference”.

“It became obvious that more had been hurt, and at that point we realised it wasn’t just about us, it was about everyone else as well.”

‘Slowly make a difference’

Michael’s family have set up Mike’s Trust (Michael’s Initiative for Knifecrime Education in Society) to “raise awareness of knife crime… and empower people to make better choices”.

“What happened to Mike was unbelievably horrific,” said Mr Allen.

“We know it will happen again, we can’t stop it all, but the hope is that through working with youth groups and schools we can slowly make a difference, so that on an occasion unknown in the future a young lad will go out without a knife in their pocket.”

Michael’s sister, Alicia Puckey, 31, said she hoped the trust would help young people get through their troubles and “ultimately give them the courage to go ‘I don’t need to take a knife with me, I can leave it in the drawer'”.

“I hope that we can find people who are currently on the wrong path and provide support – a community they can go to and feel that their voice is heard.”

Michael’s sister, Becky Dustan, 34, said the trust was working to better understand why young people carried knives.

“If you don’t understand why, you’re never going to be able to give them the right advice.”

Michael’s family asked police about the number of knife-related offences in Devon and Cornwall from 2015, and data released by the force under the Freedom of Information law showed the number of recorded offences doubled in the seven-year period.

There were 1,299 offences in Devon and Cornwall in the first 10 months of 2022, compared to 638 recorded in the whole of 2015.

The number of children involved in incidents where a knife or blade was recorded as being involved in Devon and Cornwall nearly tripled over the same seven-year period.

There were 340 offences with a person aged under 18 involved as either a suspect, offender or victim in the first 10 months of 2022, up from 94 in the whole of 2015.

There were 44 knife crime offences per 100,000 people in Devon and Cornwall in the year up to September 2022, compared to the England average of 86, according to the latest ONS data.

In 2019, the force moved from manual recording of the types of offences by officers to an automated software system.

It said the new software resulted in an increase in the number of offences being identified as knife crime-related.

The force added there had also been changes in legislation since 2019 to include offences in private residential settings.

Mrs Dustan said: “It’s worrying, those are our kids. We need to be doing something – helping the children to make better choices.”

Michael’s mum, Tracey Orchard, 56, described him as a “once seen never forgotten sort of person”.

Ms Orchard said she thought her son would be proud that a trust had been set up in his name.

“He was never the one to be the centre of the light, but yeah, I think he’d be proud.”

(Source: BBC)

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