Leading the conversation on reducing crime in London

06/03/2018 – Roy Ile is a member of the Fight for Peace London Academy and an active advocate for change in his local community. One area where Roy is looking to take a lead is in helping to find solutions to the high crime rates in east London – an issue on which he recently helped coordinate a multi-sector conference. Here, Roy tells us about his leadership roles inside and outside of Fight for Peace, and gives his thoughts on reducing crime and violence in the community:

I have grown up my whole life in east London and I go to school in Beckton, where I am currently studying for my GCSEs. I started going to Fight for Peace around the end of 2016. I was interested in doing kickboxing and a friend told me that Fight for Peace was a great place so I came and gave it a try. Ever since I came here, people have been really friendly and Fight for Peace offers lots of opportunities. I have also stayed fit here, it’s a great place – that’s why I stuck around!

I am now hoping to join the Youth Council, which represents Fight for Peace and its members, and works in part to try to make the local community a better place to live in. The borough of Newham is sometimes described as one of the worst places to live, which is not good because we love Newham and we want to make it better. I think that this part of London is underrated; there is a lot of stuff to do despite some things that can deter people, like the really bad levels of crime.

As well as being a member of Fight for Peace, I am also involved in Youth Movements at the Beckton Globe Youth Centre, and our focus is to come up with initiatives to help improve our local communities. I think it is important that young people have a say in where they live. We meet regularly and hold events, and most recently we held a conference aimed at reducing crime rates in Newham.   

This issue was chosen as knife and gun crime and acid attacks have been increasing and we wanted to help bring that down. Following months of planning we held a conference at the University of East London and brought together many different people; groups of young people, adults, the council and the police. We did lots of different workshops at the conference which was really good.  I was in some of them and it was great to see young people and adults talking about Newham and how to improve it – that was our aim. 

In one workshop people acted out real life stories that they had heard and people found this really inspiring. There were also debates on how to make Newham better, discussions on dangers and handouts on how to report crime anonymously and how to distance yourself from criminal activities. 

Living in an area affected by high crime rates affects us all. As young people, our parents are afraid to let us go out alone and stay out late, and in one way this affects our freedom. Also, when you hear about stories of crime happening in your area it is scary, I know people that won’t drive with their car windows down because they are afraid of being victims of random drive-by attacks. 

Crime in Newham needs to stop. I think the problem is that lots of people are afraid and that’s why they carry weapons. I also think that if everyone – adults, teenagers and the police – understood each other, the situation would be better. There is a lot of misunderstanding between groups and that was what was great about the conference, everyone got together and that’s what I like to see.