Express & Star

'I need to even the field!' West Midlands youths spell out in their own words why they carry blades

The Express & Star has asked five youths why they carry knives in the streets of the West Midlands.

Tragedies: Four of far too many lives lost to knife crime. From top left: Zane Smart, Akeem Francis-Kerr, Ronan Kanda, Jack Lowe

Isaac Brown, Harleigh Hepworth, Shawn Seesahai. These names resonate on the lips of West Midlands residents; painting a terrible timeline of grief and horror as knife crime becomes more prolific in the region.

These names are only three of 20 victims who have sadly lost their lives as a result of knife crime over the last two years. The Express & Star documentary Grief highlights the trauma and shock that stays with the families of victims long after.

With every death, one question remains on the lips of victims, families and the communities it affects: "Why are these people carrying knives?"

In an exclusive investigation by the Express & Star, five youths have spoken anonymously about their reasons for carrying knives on the streets of the West Midlands and why they feel it is justified.

One 14-year-old, who gave a false name of Tyler, said he has been carrying a knife ever since the stabbing incidents became more prevalent, saying it is only "just in case" and that it "evens the playing field" when he is on the streets.

The Knife Angel sculpture by Alfie Bradley was made from over 100,000 seized blades

Tyler said: "It's only a little ting [weapon]. It's just like a little flick blade – just in case I get into anything.

"It makes things even, you know? If someone tries to stab you, you want something to get them back."

When asked if he would ever use the knife, 'Tyler' said he wouldn't want to, but if he had to - he most likely would.

Tyler added: "I'm not out looking for trouble really. We're just having fun and that. But we have opps [opponents or enemies], if they come at us I might have to use it – but it's a last resort."

The Express & Star documentary Grief