The young people tellingly told of how safety depended on where you live with one teenager revealing he would never go to Thornton Heath without protection.

The 18-year-old, who admitted: “You never go to Thornton Heath naked (without a knife)”, was one of number of young people who described the areas they live in as ‘dangerous’ or ‘not safe’. Several children identified to the Vulnerable Adolescents Thematic Review Panel that peer pressure has a significant factor as some children got involved in gangs or violence to feel safer and to avoid becoming victims. 

Having nothing to do, or nowhere to go outside of school, meant that some children hung around the streets or fast food outlets, which they believed increased their risk of violence and heightened perceptions of not feeling safe, resulting in more children carrying weapons to protect themselves. 

Last year speaking to a public meeting in Croydon Chief Inspector Craig Knight citied the case of a nine-year-old child  found to be carrying a Samurai sword in the street. His mum was spoken to adn she said she had given it to him as she felt that he wouldn’t be attacked if he had it. 

Croydon has the worst number of offences recorded by police of children carrying a blade or other offensive weapons on school premises between 2015-18: recorded at 89.

Children as young as nine need to be targeted in the fight against knife crime Croydon’s top policeman told the Council’s scrutiny and overview committee. recently. Unlike other boroughs Croydon has seen reductions in knife crime with only one death in the past year.

This month a 26-year-old man became the latest victim of the knife crime epidemic. He was stabbed  in the  leg and wounded during an incident on Cotford Road opposite Tesco on March 6. Police were called to the scene by paramedics. His injuries were not life threatening.