READING has sadly seen a huge rise in knife crime lately.

Although it isn't a new issue, it's a growing and concerning one.

The Reading Chronicle want to get behind calls to prevent and tackle the problem, and will be launching a campaign to address causes and potential solutions.

READ MORE: Reading Chronicle launches knife crime campaign

Colin Leslie has worked with Berkshire Youth for two years, and said knife crime in the area is getting "out of control."

He said: "This knife crime has been around for a long time, and I really do think the government need to do something about.

"I know Covid has been the primary topic lately but we need to get a grip on this big time."

Speaking about potential reasons for the recent increase in knife violence, Colin highlighted an array of things.

"There are so many reasons why it is happening, a whole myriad of things, not just one," he said.

"Which is what makes it so hard to tackle.

"In some instances it’s bravado, but some people carry a knife because they are scared and want to protect themselves.

"They don’t always necessarily want to harm anyone, but the situations get out of hand.

"For some, it’s a case of reputation, people thinking they need to represent their areas or their characters.

"It’s not a black issue, it’s not a white issue or an Asian issue – it’s a youth issue."

Knife crime stock image

Knife crime stock image

Colin added that since he began working with young people, knife crime has got gradually worse.

"Run away is always my main advice, but many young people believe running away makes them weak.

"I say 'if you want to protect your reputation and be a strong person, you need to be alive for that'.

"We try to get them to focus on this narrative – be an individual, protect yourself by being the best version of you - just run away from it."

He added that education plays a key role in deterring such violence, but said it's a very difficult issue to pin down.

"Young people are not willing to agree to disagree anymore, it always has to get serious.

"We also see young people who do not seem the sort to carry knives doing it.

"There’s a misconception that it’s “poor kids” or kids from a certain demographic, but it’s across the board. It’s so many young people.

"As soon as the weather improves and lockdown eases, even more young people will be on the streets carrying knives.

"They don't trust going to the police, and they don’t want to be a “snitch”, but every time a stabbing happens, lots of them tend to know who is involved but are too scared to say anything.

Scene following a recent stabbing at Dulnam Close, Tilehurst

Scene following a recent stabbing at Dulnam Close, Tilehurst

READ MORE: Map shows timeline of stabbings in Reading

"As youth workers, we are able to be their “go between”, we aren’t the police, we aren’t their teachers.

"But so many youth centres have been shutting down for so long - young people have nothing to focus on or to take them away from that life.

"Education, more youth resources - these things would all help, but at the moment nothing we have tried seems to be helping - it's a very deep-rooted issue."

Colin, along with his colleague Paul Bazey, are currently involved with a project involving the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, attempting to tackle serious and violent crime.