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Family fun day held to raise awareness of knife crime in Gloucester

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 06, 2014

  • Hollie Gazzard

HUNDREDS of people gathered at an event to deliver their message: ‘we will not tolerate knife crime in Gloucester’.

A family fun day was held at Coney Hill Rugby Club today in aid of city charity Increase the Peace and in tribute to Hollie Gazzard and Martin Stokes who both died this year.

Rachael Thomas, 32, a childhood friend of Martin’s, organised the event to push the anti-knife crime message while raising money for the charity which works to keep young people out of trouble.

Ms Thomas said: “These crimes have rocked the whole community.

“This event was to raise awareness of knife crime and violent crime in general. And one way of doing that was to invite Increase the Peace as they educate and work with younger children in youth clubs and through mentoring services and if the charity can get in there at an early age, then it can get them to change their way of thinking.

“These crimes are still fresh and raw in peoples’ minds and the community wants a change and they don’t want to see this happening where they are living.

“Martin was a really compassionate and caring person and I hope he would have been proud of this event,” added Ms Thomas, who had known Martin since she was nine-years-old.

The event included music and street dance performances, a fun fair, food stalls and raffles to raise as much money as possible for Increase the Peace.

Martin,30, was stabbed in January and he lost his battle for survival at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, where he was treated for wounds for a week.

Hollie Gazzard was killed in the city in February while she worked at a salon in Southgate Street and more than 800 people attended her funeral at Gloucester Catherdral last month to celebrate the life of the 20-year-old.

Increase the Peace aims to increase community spirit and promote the positive side of urban music by getting young people to put their feelings on crime and Anti-social behaviour down in music.

Councillor Said Hansdot, sheriff of Gloucester, said: “We have to raise the awareness that carrying a knife is not the right way to do things.

“Knife crime is an issue and one knife on the streets is too many as far as I am concerned.

“Whatever we can do to get knife crime off the streets is good news for the city. We are working very hard to eradicate that and if people do see anything they must report it to the authorities, whether that is the police or the city council.”

The event was backed by the Safer Gloucester Partnership and Gloucestershire Constabulary which has rolled out airport-type scanners at nightclub entrances which can detect if revellers are carrying metal objects.

Section officer Richard Godfrey said: “This is deployed quite often and the queues pass through it which detects if people are carrying metal items they shouldn't be, so when they are used they are worthwhile.”

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