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Cabbie backs PM on knives; CRACKDOWN: Victim says there is no excuse for blades.

Byline: By Barbara Goulden

KNIFE-ATTACK victim Ken Roberts is fully behind the Prime Minister's tough new line on prosecuting anyone who goes out carrying a blade.

Mr Roberts, a Coventry taxi driver, said: "There should be zero tolerance on carrying knives unless it's to do with your job.

"It's all bunkum when these young men say they were only carrying blades for their own protection - it's just a status thing - they swagger around thinking they are above the law."

Earlier this year, Mr Roberts, who lives in Eastern Green, picked up a drunken passenger who asked him to stop while he bought some cigarettes. When Mr Roberts turned round, he found the young man pointing a knife at him.

The 63-year-old cabbie had the courage to grab the man's wrist and, following a struggle, the knifeman ran off.

He added: "Fortunately, things seem to have calmed down a bit in Coventry and I have not heard of any recent attacks over the taxi drivers' grapevine.

"As far as I'm concerned there should be no excuse for carrying a knife - we're not living in Dodge City."

Gordon Brown this week recommended that anybody, even 16-year-olds, should be prosecuted if they are found to be carrying knives.

West Midlands Police and criminal justice agencies are already running a six-month initiative, called Get Caught, Go To Court, which aims to crack down on adults carrying knives and improve confidence in the criminal justice system.

But youth worker Rashid Bhayat, a sports inclusion manager for Coventry City Council, says the issue is more complicated than it might first appear.

Mr Bhayat, who works with 10- to 19-year-olds growing up in neighbourhoods where they might encounter problems, said: "My first question would be why is somebody carrying a knife?

"What has happened to make these young people think they need to carry a weapon? There is no need for them to carry knives but I've known teenagers who've been bullied and terrorised for years.

"Automatically putting young people in front of the courts may not be the answer."


CONCERNS... Ken Roberts (above) and (right) Rashid Bhayat.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jun 7, 2008
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