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'Stop treating your kids like your mates': gangster's knife crime advice to parents

PUBLISHED: 14:17 12 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:38 12 February 2020

Darryl Laycock will be speaking at Open to raise awareness about the dangers of crime. Here he is pictured at the National Diversity Awards in Liverpool. Picture: Sara Porter

Darryl Laycock will be speaking at Open to raise awareness about the dangers of crime. Here he is pictured at the National Diversity Awards in Liverpool. Picture: Sara Porter

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A prolific former gang member has told Norfolk parents to "get their head out of the clouds" and watch what their children are doing as he raises awareness of the danger of crime.

Darryl Laycock will be speaking at Open to raise awareness about the dangers of crime. Here he is pictured at the National Diversity Awards in Liverpool. Picture: Dave EastonDarryl Laycock will be speaking at Open to raise awareness about the dangers of crime. Here he is pictured at the National Diversity Awards in Liverpool. Picture: Dave Easton

Darryl Laycock, who was shot at 27 times and stabbed seven times before spending 17 years in prison, will be speaking at the OPEN Youth Trust on Saturday afternoon at a free talk.

The talk is open to young people, parents, carers, teachers and youth workers.

The BAFTA winner said he wanted to come to Norwich after hearing from a concerned parent.

Mr Laycock said: "Hiding the knives, watching the behaviours of their kids, their attitudes, the smell, I could go on. Not all parents are to blame, but they need to stop treating their kids as their mates.

Darryl Laycock will be speaking at Open to raise awareness about the dangers of crime. Here he is pictured at the National Diversity Awards in Liverpool. Picture: Dave EastonDarryl Laycock will be speaking at Open to raise awareness about the dangers of crime. Here he is pictured at the National Diversity Awards in Liverpool. Picture: Dave Easton

"I'm not going to hold back with any of this. Parents need to get their heads out of the clouds and start acting. Build up parenting groups and be supportive of each other.

"Prevention is better than court. There is no cure if someone's son or daughter is killed."

The number of knife crime incidents in Norfolk is rising - in 2017 there were 550 reports made to the police, which increased to 643 the following year.

As a former gang member, Mr Laycock was among those who helped Manchester get the unwanted tag of Gunchester in the early 1990s.

Following his release from prison in 2011 he has used his life experiences to work with more than 180,000 young people to make positive life choices.

Mr Laycock said: "I'm going to give them the reality. People are getting killed in the street every single day. We fund wars, we fund relief aid. We can find money to prosecute young people but we cannot find money for youth centres.

"They should listen to what I have to say and take on board the facts."

He added: "We have a knife crime epidemic. A knife will never stop working, it will always have its point.

"Just come along and hear the truth. They can make an informed choice and if you decided to do something it's up to you. Come and listen to the real life, it's not how it is on films."

As part of his work, Mr Laycock met Prince Charles to advise him on knife crime and youth violence.

He was also part of the award-winning documentary Gun No6 and in 2019 won a positive role model award at the National Diversity Awards.

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Mr Laycock said: "Since I started this nine years ago, young people go on to full time employment, they have started their own businesses over the years. Some people go to university.

"People can achieve what they want to achieve. Some say they cannot because they have a criminal record. I have been to Buckingham Palace. There is no excuse, you cannot let your past determine your future."

The OPEN Youth Trust has released more tickets due to popular demand for the event, which begins at 2.30pm on Saturday and can be booked via Eventbrite.

Charlene Girling, head of youth services at OPEN, said: "We know that county lines is a threat to the safety of our county's most vulnerable young people and I hope that this event will educate our youth, parents and professionals working with them about the dangers of becoming involved in criminal activity.

"We want to inspire young people to make the right choices and as Darryl has lived experience I am sure young people will be able to relate to him and be able to drive this message."

Norfolk Police have urged communities to "look out for signs" and to make contact if they suspect someone may be involved in knife crime or vulnerable.

Signs may include:

■ Spending time with older people

■ Going missing or being isolated

■ Bruises

■ Petty crime

■ Threats, won't get to certain places

■ Raised anxiety

■ Gifts or unexplained money

■ Weapons or drugs

Police also ask members of the public to look out for "cuckooing", which is when gang members in rural towns take over a vulnerable person's accommodation to use as their base.

To help someone involved in county lines to safely get out, call the police on 101 or 999.

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