17:19 February 26, 2022
There are growing calls for schools across the city to do more to raise awareness of gang culture after the recent stabbings.
Campaigners have urged teachers and youth workers to educate young people following a series of high-profile crimes in Norwich and police warnings of the impact ‘county lines’ drug gangs are having locally.
They say they have encountered a lack of awareness among young people, even in areas where gangs are active.
Schools, however, say work is being done to try to steer the most vulnerable students away from crime.
Among those raising concerns is Paul Lewis, boxing trainer at Broadside Warriors Boxing Club in New Costessey and police trainer in Suffolk.
He said: “I was talking to our boxers and they told me that knife crime and gangs haven’t happened once in schools. Many of them know friends involved in county lines .
“I was stunned that schools don’t cover this. It’s a taboo subject that isn’t talked about and that’s where problems can arise.”
Norwich and Lowestoft rapper Shane Harvey, 25, is an ex-delinquent who was involved in gangs but has now turned his life around through music.
He said he never learned anything about avoiding gangs when he was a schoolboy.
“They really should do classes at school even if it’s once a month to raise awareness,” the rapper added.
A spokeswoman for City Academy Norwich said staff were working closely with the Norfolk Constabulary Safer Schools Partnership.
She added: “This ensures that they are well informed of the risks they may be exposed to and helps them deal with situations that could put them at risk.
“Staff and our Safer Schools Manager regularly deliver key messages to our students through assemblies and our personal, social, health and economic lessons.”
However, many other schools in the city did not respond when approached for comment.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Our experience is that schools are very aware of the county line issue and extremely concerned about the welfare of pupils.
“We are aware that police services are less able to communicate directly with schools than in the past due to government cutbacks.
“The county boundary issue is an example where it could be helpful if there were more resources in place to support schools with this message.”