Politics

OperationShutdown: Anti-knife crime protest closes Westminster bridge


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OperationShutdown, made up of bereaved families and anti-knife campaigners, is demanding a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee

Bereaved parents and anti-knife campaigners have shut down Westminster Bridge in London in protest at the government’s response to violent crime.

Campaigners from OperationShutdown are demanding urgent action to tackle a “national emergency” in violent crime.

Tracey Hanson, whose 21-year-old son Josh was murdered, said protesters were driven by a “sense of desperation”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he had implemented “a number of approaches” to reduce serious violence.

Marchers gathered in Whitehall to call for a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee to tackle the recent surge in violent crime.

They held a minute’s silence near the Houses of Parliament in memory of PC Keith Palmer, who was murdered by a terrorist while on duty in 2017, before moved to the bridge, where they sat down.

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OperationShutdown members called the government’s response to a spike in knife-crime “non-inclusive” and “tokenistic”.

One of the organisers, Lucy Martindale, whose cousin was fatally stabbed, said the government held a Cobra meeting “if there is a terrorist attack and one person is killed”.

“Several people daily are being killed on our streets, why is this not being treated as the national emergency that it is?” she said.

Ms Hanson said: “Should we be here doing this? No, we should not, but we are and I hope we are going to make a change”.

An extra £100m was made available for police in the areas worst affected by knife violence following an anti-knife crime summit earlier this month.

OperationShutdown organisers criticised the summit as “non-inclusive” and “tokenistic”.

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Anti-knife crime campaigners shut down Westminster Bridge after marching through Whitehall

The group is calling for range of systemic changes to reduce violence, including independent investigation into school exclusions, better rehabilitation of prisoners to stop them going on to kill, and for full jail terms to be served for murder and manslaughter.

The Met Police have been approached for comment.

Thirty-six homicide investigations have been launched in London since the start of the year, including 23 stabbings.

The action comes after extensive disruption caused by a separate environmental protest, which has closed several central London roads.



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