Mother welcomes initiatives to tackle knife crime

THE mother of a man who was stabbed to death in Colchester has welcomed a parliamentary report which makes a string of recommendations to tackle increases in knife crime.

Annie Davidson

THE mother of a man who was stabbed to death in Colchester has welcomed a parliamentary report which makes a string of recommendations to tackle increases in knife crime.

Ann Oakes-Odger said she was pleased the all-party home affairs committee had flagged up the danger of children being exposed to violent DVDs and computer games.

Mrs Oakes-Odger, who gave evidence to the committee, has been a campaigner against knife crime since her son, Westley Odger, was stabbed to death.


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The 27-year-old was attacked by two brothers at a cashpoint machine on the Greenstead estate in September 2005 and died from a stab wound to the neck.

The men were later jailed for the killing after which Mrs Oakes-Odger launched a high-profile campaign to tackle knife crime and the causes behind it.

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Her website - www.knifecrimes.org - raises awareness of the causes of violent crime, educates young people, trains police, community support officers and youth workers and supports affected families.

She also takes part in numerous public events to talk about her experience and highlight the issues.

The report, which was made public yesterday, was compiled by a group of MPs including Colchester MP Bob Russell, who heard evidence from a number of witnesses.

The committee concluded that the “worrying” prevalence of young people carrying knives was mainly motivated by fear and a lack of faith in the ability of “natural protectors” like police and parents to keep them safe.

It said these root causes needed to be tackled to begin reducing knife crime.

The committee was told children as young as seven had been found carrying knives and recommended the Government should adopt a “public health” approach to prevent violence in the long-term, including early intervention with those most at risk because of deprivation, lack of family support and exposure to violence in the home.

Mrs Oakes-Odger said yesterday: “I'm pleased with the fact that the committee is recommending the Government adopt a public health approach because with that it will give room for preventative education which is predominantly what I have called for alongside tougher sentencing.

“I had also said not just to this enquiry but to the Street Weapons Commission that I felt violent DVDs and video games do have a negative influence on young people especially where perhaps a child has experienced bullying within the home or at school and has developed a pre-disposition to having violence triggered.”

Mr Russell said: “Mrs Oakes-Odger gave evidence at my suggestion and I am full of admiration for her, she is an incredible woman who has devoted her life to this cause following the tragedy which happened to her own family.”

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

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