'End the bloodshed on our streets': Call for action after Wolverhampton shooting
Urgent action is needed to end the bloodshed on the streets of the Black Country as a 16-year-old boy was left fighting for his life after being shot in the head, an MP said today.
The teenager was shot in Graiseley Street on Monday night in the latest in a series of shocking attacks in the region which has sparked calls for a response to try and halt the wave of violence among young people.
The shooting comes on the back of two separate attacks near the University of Wolverhampton during the last fortnight that saw four people stabbed, while a boy was also struck with a hammer near the city's Wulfrun Centre.
Yesterday evening a man was shot dead in Birmingham.
Wolverhampton MP Pat McFadden believes cuts to youth services in the city have played a part in the spike in violence and says there needs to be a focus on the issue led from the very top of Government.
The Labour MP said: "This is a shocking incident. Let us hope this boy pulls through and survives this.
"This is the latest in a series of violent incidents in the city in recent weeks involving both knives and guns.
"The public are increasingly concerned at the level of violent crime. It's an urgent priority for the police and every other agency who can influence this to work together to try and get on top of this.
"There is no single factor but cuts to the number of police officers and cuts to youth services may be partly to blame.
"There have been a lot of cuts over the last 10 years. Looking back we can see some of those have been very short-sighted. In large parts of the city there are no organisations with activities for young people.
"I'm not going to say it is the sole factor because it's not, but I certainly don't think it's helped."
The MP for Wolverhampton South East said he had been shocked by how young people involved in violence are.
He said: "In the past it was 16, 17 and 18 but now it is significantly younger. Now there are young people carrying weapons who are 12, 13 and 14 years old.
"The main organisations need to accept there is a public service emergency. In my view the Prime Minister should be chairing a group at a national level to get on top of this and that should cascade down to police, local authorities and even the NHS."
Kelly Ellitts, whose 15-year-old son Keelan Wilson was stabbed to death in Merry Hill, Wolverhampton, last year, believes education is key.
It was revealed last week that youth support workers would be put into A&E at Wolverhampton's New Cross Hospital to help knife victims but Ms Ellitts believes it may already be too late by then.
She said: "For schools nowadays it's too easy to throw these kids out and not let them back out. They are turning to the streets out of boredom. That's where the money needs to be invested.
"I heard they are sending young people into hospitals. That's ludicrous - the damage has already been done at that point. These people need to be educated before these things happen.
"This latest attack is disgraceful. I have left Wolverhampton as I can't be there."
Ms Ellitts, 40, added: "It is a big mix of things. There is a lack of things for kids to do and parents are getting away with not parenting properly. There should be more parenting courses and more support for problem children.
"A lot of kids grow up without dads looking for love and looking in the wrong place."
Eleanor Smith, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West, said she was hoping to meet with police following the shooting.
She said: "This news is shocking and disturbing. I have very serious concerns about how people are getting access to guns."
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrats in the city also believe there is a link between cuts to youth services and rising crime.
Party campaigner Layla Abbes said: "For more than half a decade, services that provide young people with positive activities that support their learning and development and allow them to meet new friends and socialise, have been chipped away to the point that they are almost non-existent. We are now living with the consequences of that decision every day on our streets."
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