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JJ McPhillips mum: Kids as young as 5 are carrying knives in Islington

PUBLISHED: 08:03 12 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:34 13 July 2017

Michelle McPhillips at the Islington Safer Neighbourhood Board meeting. Picture: Polly Hancock

Michelle McPhillips at the Islington Safer Neighbourhood Board meeting. Picture: Polly Hancock

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The mum of murdered Jonathon “JJ” McPhillips last night claimed children as young as five are carrying knives in Islington.

JJ McPhillips was stabbed to death outside Islington Town Hall in February. Picture: McPhillips familyJJ McPhillips was stabbed to death outside Islington Town Hall in February. Picture: McPhillips family

Michelle McPhillips was speaking at Islington’s Safer Neighbourhood Board meeting in the town hall, where the borough’s ongoing knife crime issues dominated discussion.

Ms McPhillips, whose 28-year-old son JJ was stabbed to death in front of the same town hall on February 27, said: “The knife is the silent gun. We need more stop and search. People will complain but the people who complain are [often] the ones carrying. The youngest child I’ve heard of was five years old. He was carrying for his brother.”

Ms McPhillips continues to campaign for information about her son’s unsolved murder.

In her rousing speech, she told a panel which included Islington’s top cop Catherine Roper: “A lot of people in this borough don’t know about the murder of my son.

“I am handing out leaflets myself, doing the police’s job. You understand? There’s no support for us out there. It’s like we are doing all the work ourselves.

“I am approaching young people on the Marquess Estate, a hotspot where a couple of months ago there were three stabbings in the space of 24 hours. People are actually doing ‘safe stabbings’ – using a knife in a way they know won’t kill.”

Catherine Roper sat on the panel at the Islington Safer Neighbourhood Board meeting. Picture: Polly HancockCatherine Roper sat on the panel at the Islington Safer Neighbourhood Board meeting. Picture: Polly Hancock

Det Ch Supt Roper promised to meet Ms McPhillips to discuss “how we can support you better”.

Ms McPhillips said more families of recent victims should be invited to join the campaign against blades.

“I have approached the police asking them to come into schools to show the effect this can have on families. Let’s do something positive for once. Please, start letting us help.”

She added Islington can’t rely solely on the Ben Kinsella Trust, an anti-knife crime charity named after the teen brutally murdered in the Cally in 2008. It has an exhibition at Finsbury Library visited by 10,000 kids.

“No disrespect to the Kinsella Trust. I have spoken to Debbie and George [Ben’s parents]. If I started a charity it would be based on the same system.

“But he’s not the only victim of knife crime. I am sorry to have to say that, but we have to look at other people in the borough.”

Islington youth Cllrs Miriam Fleary and Venetia McNally spoke out against stop and search at the Islington Safer Neighbourhood Board meeting. Picture: Polly HancockIslington youth Cllrs Miriam Fleary and Venetia McNally spoke out against stop and search at the Islington Safer Neighbourhood Board meeting. Picture: Polly Hancock

The panel asked audience members to suggest Islington’s policing priorities. Ideas included supporting victims of knife crime and a “zero tolerance” approach to hate crime following the Finsbury Park terror attack.

The most divisive issue was stop and search – Det Ch Insp Roper came under fire from Islington youth Cllrs Miriam Fleary and Venetia McNally after she agreed with Ms McPhillips in saying she was a “huge supporter” of the tactic.

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