Ipswich student raises knife-crime at youth parliamment
PUBLISHED: 05:30 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:46 01 May 2019
Ipswich student Isaac Codjoe is the same age as Tavis Spencer-Aitkens was when he was knifed to death in the street last summer.
By his own admission, the St Joseph's College sixth former has enjoyed a relatively privileged background – but recognises what he describes as the 'socio-economic problem' of youth violence and gang crime.
The 17-year-old, who hopes to study economics at University College London, became a Member of Youth Parliament in March 2018.
In a special debate at the House of Commons last November, Isaac raised knife crime as one of the parliament's five key issues.
“This affects us all,” he said.
“More than 40,000 knife crimes nationwide in a year is no small number.
“There are solutions. We need to teach from an early age that being in a gang is a dangerous lifestyle.
“It needs to be from ground level. Primary schools start with stranger danger – we should educate people in the same way about knife crime.”
Following stabbings in Ipswich over last summer, which included the death of Tavis Spencer-Aitkens, the St Joseph's College student felt compelled to raise the issues in a debate witnessed by Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and chaired by House of Commons speaker John Bercow.
“This is a socio-economic problem,” he said.
“We should look at the people behind the crime. They are mainly living under the poverty line.
“People will go online and see they can get a Gucci wallet without having to work for £8 an hour. But they don't realise the consequences.
“When there's a problem, the rest of society looks to blame someone for it, to take guilt way from themselves.
“Hopefully, people will realise that not every young black man is a member of J-Block.”
With other members of youth parliament, Isaac is trying to create an event in April to raise awareness about knife crime, encouraging people to stay away from that culture and have a better future.
“They shouldn't have to leave their homes in fear, or in preparation to respond to violence with violence,” he said.
“They should be armed with the knowledge that they can become great people – doctors, lawyers and politicians – and that the government cares about their safety.”