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‘This is an extreme world’: Cardiff children taught how to defend themselves from knife attacks | Politics News

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In a gym on the outskirts of Cardiff some mums have brought their children to a morning activity session.

On the sidelines they sit and watch proudly as the boys and girls are put into pairs.

The man running the session is James Bourne, a former nightclub bouncer, who now teaches children self-defence.

But this is no ordinary self-defence class.

Tarafi Atkinson, aged 11, is grasping a black plastic knife. His brother Tyreece, nine, must defend himself against an attack.

The scenario today is the school playground.

James pretends he is the bully and Tarafi his friend.

He shouts at Tyreece at the top of his voice: “Give me your money, give me your phone, give it to me or my mate will stab you!”

“I don’t want to fight,” Tyreece says quietly, his small hand up around his face to protect himself.

“GIVE ME YOUR PHONE AND YOUR MONEY,” James shouts even more loudly than before. He slaps the boy around the face.

“Get him,” James says and Tarafi lunges towards his brother with the plastic knife.

A knife class, part of a Nick Martin piece
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The knife class in Cardiff is ‘about surviving’ not fighting

Tyreece moves quickly and grabs his brother’s arm which is holding the knife and pulls it around his back, forcing both of them to the floor. The knife drops out of his brother’s hand.

“Well done,” says James.

“We don’t call this fighting, we call this surviving,” James tells me.

Welcome to knife club for kids. The new norm in towns gripped by knife crime.

Lisa Hole, Tyreece and Tarafi’s mum, is beaming with pride.

She says: “It looks extreme, but this is an extreme world, isn’t it? I want my kids to know what to do when someone pulls a knife on them. I want to know that they can defend themselves if I’m not there.”

Kate might seem like she is over-reacting, but after the summer that Cardiff has had, she could be forgiven.

Cardiff’s youngsters are killing each other and they’re using kitchen knives to do it.

Three teenagers were murdered in as many months and people are nervous.

The most recent was 17-year-old Harry Baker, who was found dead in docklands after being stabbed repeatedly.

Harry Baker, part of Nick Martin piece. Pic: South Wales Police
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Harry Baker, 17, was stabbed to death. Pic: South Wales Police

In June, Fahad Mohamed Nur, 18, died after being stabbed 21 times near a train station.

Fahad Mohamed, part of a Nick Martin piece. Pic: South Wales Police
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Fahad Mohamed Nur, 18, was killed. Pic: South Wales Police

And Asim Khan, 21, died after being stabbed on St Mary Street in July.

Asim Khan, part of a Nick Martin piece. Pic: South Wales Police
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Asim Khan, 21, died after being stabbed. Pic: South Wales Police

The number of recorded knife crimes have risen to record levels in Wales with incidents involving a knife increasing by 80% in the last decade, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Over the same period, nearly 20,000 police officers were cut across England and Wales and youth clubs and services withered due to lack of funding.

Senior police officers say those factors are linked to the rise in knife crime.

It is a hot political issue in the run-up to the election.

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Knife crime has increased as police numbers were cut

Boris Johnson wants to bring back 20,000 police officers in the next three years. Labour, however, is not planning as many, around 10,000. The Lib Dems want to spend a billion pounds on policing and youth services.

But there are a lot of people in Cardiff who do not believe extra police officers will help.

A dad who suffered significant injuries after being stabbed on the streets of Cardiff claims knife crime in the Welsh capital is getting worse.

Marvin Heron, part of a Nick Martin piece
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Marvin Heron was stabbed in Cardiff

Marvin Heron, from Llanrumney, says children as young as eight are carrying knives around the city without realising the devastating physical and psychological impact they could cause.

He has now launched the #KnivesDownChallenge19, where people are urged to record a short poem or rap – under the same backing track – about why knife crime needs to be stopped in its tracks.

“At the moment, carrying a knife seems like the cool thing to do. Everyone wants to carry a knife. It’s getting bad,” he says.

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Mr Heron warns even children in Cardiff are carrying knives

“There’s a kid on this street who is only eight. He has a knife. I’m not sure what more police will do. We don’t see police here. It’s not a policing issue, it a bigger community issue.

“No one gives a f**k about people anymore. No one respects their parents anymore. No one respects their teachers any more. All people want to do is protect themselves and if that means carrying a big knife then fair enough.”

The government thinks tougher sentences are the answer.

In the recent Queen’s Speech, the government announced plans for a sentencing bill, designed to change the automatic release point for perpetrators of violent crime from halfway through their sentence, to two-thirds.

Helen McAuley-Salder, part of a Nick Martin piece
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Helen McAuley-Salder thought she was going to die

Helen McAuley-Salder was stabbed seven times after being attacked by two teenage girls while at a funfair in 2001. Her throat was cut in the attack. One attacker was released without charge, the other served less than six months.

In her first ever interview about the attack, she said: “I didn’t know I’d been stabbed at the time. People were holding their hands against my throat and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die right there.”

Helen believes her attackers should have been given stricter sentences and supports the government’s move to increase penalties for violent crimes.

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Helen McAuley-Salder was stabbed seven times

Back at the gym, the knife defence class is coming to an end.

The kids shake hands with their instructors, some of them hug and share a smile.

They all hope they will never have to use what they’ve just learned.

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