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Call to involve community in fight against knife crime in Slough

A call has been made for more community involvement in the fight against knife crime one year on from the killing of teenager Elton Gashaj.

Elton, 15, died after being stabbed to death in Salt Hill Park on September 21, 2019, with his killer, now 16 who cannot be named for legal reasons, receiving a nine-year jail term for murder in July.

His death led to a huge outpouring of grief in Slough with silent marches taking place in his memory and hundreds of people turning out for his funeral.

But 12 months on, campaigner Julie Siddiqi is urging Slough Borough Council to do more to involve community groups in its knife-crime prevention work and provide more support for families affected by the issue.

The-mother-of-four, who organised a march in memory of Elton after his death, said: “For me, we need to up our game and the one-year anniversary feels like a real time to ask the question ‘what’s been done in the last year?’

“I think what’s missing is how does the strategic high level meetings between Slough Borough Council and Thames Valley Police feed down to communities?

“What I would like to see more of is more utilising of community groups and get people talking.”

Julie called for support groups to be established for parents who are concerned their children are becoming involved in knife crime.

She added: “It is reassuring to hear that there is work happening, there is a strategic focus on the issues and there are partners around the table as part of the Safer Slough Partnership and other bodies.

“I just feel that there is not enough link back to the grassroots, to community groups, sports groups, places of worship and others who can, together, work on prevention, mentoring and more.”

On September 21, Julie and Foxborough ward councillor Madhuri Bedi met with the council’s cabinet member for community safety, Mohammed Nazir (Lab, Baylis and Stoke) to discuss what more needs to be done around knife crime prevention.

They also laid flowers in Salt Hill Park in memory of Elton.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council is working with a number of strategic partners and voluntary groups as part of the Serious Violence Tasks Force.

“A lot of the work happens behind the scenes with young people who are vulnerable in the borough and there is more to come.

“One of the main aims of the task force is to change young people’s perceptions.

“The fact is 99 per cent of young people do not carry a knife when they are out and about in the borough.”

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