Express & Star

Police knife bins less likely to be used says dad of murder victim

A Walsall man whose son was stabbed to death and who runs a charity in his name has said young people are less likely to give up knives in police surrender bins.

Beverley and Mark Brindley, parents of James Brindley who was killed in a knife attack, next to the new knife bin in Aldridge High Street

This comes as the West Midlands police and crime commissioner marked his 25th weapons surrender bin at a meeting of the police and crime board this week.

At the monthly meeting on Tuesday, Simon Foster announced the new bin is in Willenhall Memorial Park, Walsall, for the anonymous disposal of knives, machetes, and guns which are then destroyed by the police.

He said: “My continued roll out of the bins is just one part of a collective effort to prevent, tackle and reduce violence across the West Midlands.

“I am committed to constant and unremitting action to prevent, tackle and reduce violence, protect people and save lives.”

But Mark Brindley, trustee of the James Brindley Foundation, has revealed police ‘branding’ may deter some young people.

His son, James Brindley, died aged 26 in the early hours of the morning of Saturday June 24 2017, near their family home in Aldridge.

He was stabbed in the heart by 17-year-old Ammar Kharod, who was later sentenced to life in prison.

The young victim received open heart surgery by paramedics in the middle of the street before being pronounced dead.

Mr Brindley said: “There’s no doubt bins work – people dispose of knives in bins.

“But what we find as a charity is that, particularly with at risk young people who are already offending, and this information comes from the young people that we’re talking to every day every week, who’ve been referred to the foundation, any figure of authority is automatically treated with scepticism and suspicion.

“So bins that are clearly marked blue with the logos of the West Midlands Police officers or police and crime commissioner are going to be less likely to be used by those sorts of young people.”

The James Brindley Foundation was started by Mr Brindley, his wife Beverley and their daughter Charlotte and works to strategically eradicate knife crime using ‘social learning’.

James Brindley

The charity develops educational programmes and trains professionals in partner organisations and key agencies, like schools, to deliver them.

One campaign implemented by the foundation was to provide weapons surrender boxes across Walsall when the only one which existed was in the city centre.

Mr Brindley added: “It seemed to me that it’s a no brainer to be able to decisively say we’ve got to put these bins as close to communities as we possibly can, so that you cut down that risk of a somebody carrying a bladed weapon in their pocket to dispose of it in some considerable point of time.”

The James Brindley branded bins all have a QR code via which users can anonymously complete surveys and provide vital information.

“We’re reaching out particularly to young people to give us their perspective on offending and why they’re offending, why they’re carrying knives and what they think the solutions are because all too often young people are marginalised and a little bit sort of sidelined”, Mr Brindley said.

Asked if it had always been easy to take a sympathetic approach towards people who carry knives, he added: “No, no it hasn’t.

“It’s something that we’ve learned.

“Don’t get me wrong, we have a real issue with people carrying knives.

“But we don’t think that the solution is one size fits all.

“And there are things that that happen in people’s lives that lead them to believe that they need to carry knives

“And it’s a lack of self confidence and a lack of knowing the facts and external influences and maybe influences inside the family that lead to, you know, a scenario where they are carrying knives and resort to violence.

“But we aren’t going to change anything unless we get to those young people early and we prevent rather than intervene.”