Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 18:46 UK

Hundreds march for stabbed youth

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The crowd shouted 'no knives' as they marched

Hundreds of young people have marched through north London to the place where 16-year-old Ben Kinsella was stabbed to death to protest against knife crime.

Protesters wore T-shirts with Ben's picture and slogans "RIP Ben", "Stop Knife Violence", and "You're Always in Our Hearts" printed on them.

Ben was attacked during a row in York Way, Holloway, on Sunday. He died of multiple stab wounds to the torso.

Four youths have been arrested on suspicion of the murder.

Ben, who died hours after the attack, is the 17th teenager killed on London's streets this year.

'No knives'

Ben's three sisters joined the march wearing T-shirts showing pictures of Ben as a child and a teenager.

Ben's sister march for Ben Kinsella
This is just another trial and another life lost
Brooke Kinsella, Ben's sister

Protesters gathered at Islington Town Hall and walked down Upper Street up to York Way carrying a large banner asking "Why Ben". On the way they paused outside London Mayor Boris Johnson's home.

The procession was organised by Ben's close friend Brooke Dunford, 16, who sent out leaflets, e-mails and posted messages on a social networking website.

Miss Dunford said: "I just couldn't sit around and grieve when this might happen to other people.

"If by doing this today I have made one person rethink taking out a knife then I have done my bit. That would be one more person going back home to his mum," she said.

Police stopped traffic and led the procession with a police escort.

The group stood silently in front of Shillibeers, the club where the disturbance began leading to Ben's death.

At the scene of his death in York Way the gathering chanted "What are we here for? Ben. Why are we here? No knives."

One of Ben's sisters, former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, said: "This is just another trial and another life lost.

'Younger victims'

"I want to say thank you to every single person who is here and everyone else thinking of him."

She also appealed for witnesses to come forward urging them to "help save another life".

I think the evidence that we heard from people on the street and indeed the figures we were getting from hospitals, is that there are more people presenting with injuries caused in this way
Cherie Blair

Birds of a Feather actress Linda Robson also joined the march, with her son Louis who was with Ben after the attack.

Mrs Robson called for "stronger deterrents" to knife crime saying: "If you can do that to another human being, you are not going to be able to take that out by sending them to prison for five or six years."

Cherie Blair, appearing as Ms Booth before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "As a parent I am concerned about what's happening when my children are on the street and I know I am not unique in that by any means.

"I think the evidence that we heard from people on the street and indeed the figures we were getting from hospitals, is that there are more people presenting with injuries caused in this way.

"Because this is almost a new phenomenon - that younger children are carrying knives and, sadly, using them - the statistics are not looking at the right areas."

According to the British Crime Survey (BCS), overall violent crime has decreased by 41% since a peak in 1995. Knives are used in about 8% of violent incidents, according to the BCS, a level that has largely remained the same during the past decade.

But the BCS figures do not include under-16s, something which the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced this month would change.

Richard Garside, the director of the Centre of Crime and Justice Studies at Kings College London, said: "If you look at the figures for the last 10 years the number of knife victims has remained relatively stable - although there have been spikes - at 200 to 220 a year.

"But there is some evidence the demographic has changed. The average age of homicide victims overall has been going down, with younger and younger victims."




SEE ALSO
Cherie's crime fears for children
01 Jul 08 |  UK Politics

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