The Mother’s Story

The opening programme to the Disarming Britain season tonight was something of an eye-opener.

And not just because Paula, the mother in question, wore her dead son’s eye on a chain round her neck.

Since the fatal double shooting of Paula’s son Eugene aged just 25 she’s done workshops in schools aiming to steer kids away from the dangers of gun crime and street weapons.

So it was interesting to see the reaction of the young people in question this time – with the camera paying focus on one teen in particular who seemed less than attentive.

‘I don’t think you’re funny,’ said Paula as the camera zoomed in. ‘If I’m boring ya, just say so.’

This could be your jacket I’m holding, and I could be your mother standing here.
That’s all I’ve got to say to yous.

Problem is, for some young people, it could already be too late.

But we shouldn’t stop trying.

From Kidulthood to Adulthood

Finally, Noel Clarke’s sequel to Kidulthood, Adulthood, reaches the English regions.

And it was worth the wait.

The kids might have grown up – in terms of age at least – but some of them just can’t leave the past behind. Or the need to carry weapons.

Sam, in Kidulthood the schoolboy killer of classmate Trife, finds his release from jail six years later even tougher, perhaps, than life on the inside.

Femi Oyeniran, who plays Moony, and Adam Deacon, who plays Jay. Both were non-actors before Kidulthood came along

And while Trife’s mate Moony has taken the straight and narrow – taking the ‘smart’ option and studying law to make sure people like Sam stay behind bars for as long as they deserve – Jay, Trife’s other friend, has resorted to dealing drugs and thinking nothing of pulling a knife on anyone who crosses him.

Street weapons – be they knives, guns, baseball bats (which Sam used to kill Trife with in the first instalment) and even a handy bit of brick feature throughout.

Hell, even a pair of straightening irons are used to teach someone a lesson.

But the weapons themselves aren’t really the point – there’s a moment when one character (no spoilers here) decides to drop the knife and use his fists instead, delivering quite the knockout punch.

While the celebrations that ensue could be applauded or frowned upon, it’s the use of violence by the characters – undeniably a reflection of what is going on out there in the real world – that’s the problem.

Writer/star/director Noel Clarke – like a handful of his generation who’ve chosen hard graft over street fights – has been outspoken in interviews, ‘drop the weapons’ his message.

And that message rings loud and clear in Adulthood, too.

Like Sam’s mother says in the movie – it wasn’t just Trife’s mother that lost a son that day.

She lost hers too.

The Truth About Street Weapons

Tonight at 8pm, Channel 4 will broadcast ‘The Truth About Street Weapons

2008 has sen a staggering number of teenage gang and knife attacks on Britain’s streets with a death toll comparable to that of our troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In this edition of Dispatches, part of the Disarming Britain season which examines the effect of gun and knife crime on Britain’s streets, [Dr Tunje Lasoye, Head of Accident and Emergency in London’s Kings College Hospital] meets police officers battling against the rising tide of violence and the victims – both the injured and those left behind by their murdered friends and family. And offering the insiders view, gang members, past and present, describe what drew them into carrying weapons.

Watch it if you can, and please let us know what you think here in the comments.

links for 2008-06-29

  • 2008 has seen a staggering number of teenage gang and knife attacks on Britain’s streets with a death toll comparable to that of our troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • This morning four officers from the Armed Response Unit brought the ‘Guns and Knives Take Lives’ presentation to my school. The aim is simple: to reduce the number of young people who get caught up in incidents involving guns or knives.
  • Everyday I go on the Tube at Balham, I see this ironic juxtaposition of billboards and it makes me wryly amused, angry, but mostly sad. Left: a Channel 4 advertisement for “Disarming Britain“…
  • Policies on gun crime are flawed because ministers overlook its root causes – poverty and inequality, a report by criminologists claims.
  • “I went to get bread for my mum and some guy with a knife threatened me,” one of the little boys says earnestly, sitting by his bike on the grass. That knife to his throat was for 80p.

16-year old stabbed to death

On the eve of Channel 4’s Disarming Britain TV season, yet another teenager is stabbed to death in London – the 17th so far this year.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

ITN reports:

Two 16-year-olds have been arrested after the teenage brother of a former soap actress was stabbed to death in a London street.

Ben Kinsella, 16, is alleged to have been involved in an argument with a group of black youths prior to the incident at around 2am in York Way, Islington, north London […]

One of the murdered teenager’s friends said he had received a desperate phone call for help from Mr Kinsella shortly before the stabbing.

David Dugdale, 17, said: “He called me on the phone and just said ‘help’. He sounded really scared and then it just clicked off.”

“Why I carry a knife…”

Your views on the issues raised by Disarming Britain are diverse, complex and always fascinating. Here are the views of somebody who carries a weapon:

i am a 19 yr old knife carryer and theas is my reson. the subject of weapons, gun and knife crime is a subject i am very fond of for a number of reason been a youth worker it is something I have 2 deal with every day and also my life experience people on this page are commenting on how they don’t feel safe on the streets now i don’t feel safe any wear and that why I carry a knife and that why i would carry and use a gun i have pulled a knife out several times and that knife saved me my life it’s not the youths fault its not families fault its the goverments fault and the goverment should do more to stop this happening they shud make the streets safe and yer you get a mixture of weapon carrier people who carry and use them because they think they’re bad and they want to hurt people and people like me who need them 2 protect their self from people like them i believe every 1 does everything for a reason killing carrying every think it maybe be right or wrong or the reason maybe not be good enuf but i don’t judge any of theas people that have murdered or died

a Asian guy broke in 2 my house and tried killing me so i stabbed him nothing major just a little stab i called the police told them what had happened and they didn’t do any think to protect me or prevent it from happening month and month later the same guy caught me agen and i had my knife agene and pulled it out on him if the police did their job i would not of been in fear of my life and would not of had to carry a knife around with me you wont to luck at the course for this crime luck at the police and goverment

It’s hard to argue with somebody who believes that having a weapon is absolutely essential for self defence – and has the experience to back it up.

Some of you will say that blaming the government and the police is a cop out that avoids the real issues. But even if it is, how can we break the cycle that leaves somebody feeling this way?

Dead Ends videos

Here are two videos about Dead Ends, the video game we described here. First, the trailer – and then the making of the game.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

That’s progress for you…

Convicted killers could go free if the UK’s law lords have their way – and intimidated witnesses are denied the right to anonymity during court cases.

While Jack Straw and his men try desperately to rush through a bill protecting the use of anonymous witnesses by next week, lawyers for two of four men found guilty of killing Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis, two Birmingham teenagers shot dead outside a New Year’s party in 2003, have already said they will appeal.

An article in the Times said:

Experts have warned that the law lords’ ruling threatened other key trials already under way and said that up to 40 people convicted of serious crimes in London alone could walk free if witnesses refused to reveal their names in any retrial

People are scared enough. But if they’re not prepared to give evidence for fear of reprisals, violent criminals really will have a field day.

Let’s face it. They’ve already got one over us.

We shouldn’t need to give evidence anonymously in the first place.

We’re txting in the rain… just txting in the rain…

Last night we hosted the first of our two our two TXTual Healing events in Brick Lane, London. As soon as it got dark we started projecting various pieces of artwork and questions on to the wall. We had a great spot on Dray Walk out side the Big Chill which meant despite the downpour we still had lots of people interacting with the event and texting in their views on street crime.

The event generated lively, open debate and we had a fantastic array of responses from both our Bebo community and the general public in Brick Lane:

  • “Don’t you find it kinda weird that the national UK crime rate has gone up since Mr Brown has become Prime minister”
  • “Life is too short 4 this, Chil!”
  • “Its not big, its not clever”
  • “Guns aren’t the problem, its knices”
  • “Young people are not getting firearms free with a copy of the Beano! Its an adult led market”

The Bebo community was integral to the success of the event. Following on from a C4 Disarming Britain character being integrated into Sofia’s Diary, the 1,200-strong community were invited to asked by the cast of Sofia’s Diary to submit their thoughts on street crime and their a cross section of their views were projected. Two members on of the cast, Rebecca and Josh, also got involved in the event by interacting with the projections via SMS and writing about the events on their character blogs.

Tonight we are down in Shepherds Bush from 9pm doing it all again – hopefully we wont need our brollies!


Here’s a cool song called STOP! by a i:Candy.

As lead singer Ashli Wright says:

As a teenage band ( we’re aged 17-18 ) this sort of stuff affects us, although it seems that the media are seemingly focused on the gun problem being one that mainly affects the black community, whereas knives affect everyone – and that is so wrong. Combining rap beats with messages about gun violence is only fueling the media frenzy and attitude, so we tried to address it as plain four white teenagers concerned about it as something that affects us all.

Let’s hope that your series gets kids to see sense and disarm both guns and knives. After all, as STOP! says “That person is like you, it’s just another mother’s son”

Click below to listen to or download the song


The lyrics are reprinted in the comments below with permission