The father of a murdered teenager has said that stronger sentencing is “not the answer” to lower violent crimes amongst young people.
Jimmy Mizen was 16 when he was murdered on May 10, 2008, after a 19-year-old hurled a glass baking dish at him, causing him to bleed to death.
Jimmy’s family have set up the organisation For Jimmy in the Lewisham teen’s memory in an effort to tackle youth violence.
Barry Mizen, Jimmy’s dad, said that while he admits he doesn’t have the answers, harsher punishment is not the answer.
Speaking to News Shopper, he said: “If I knew that worked, I would be all for it, but I don’t think it does work.
“The minimum tariff was 15 years. A couple of years after that they put up the minimum tariff if you committed murder of 25 years.
“Overall the actual minimum tariffs have gone up. The reason it has done was to act as a deterrent but it hasn’t worked.”
From March 2, 2010, in murders committed by 18 to 20 year-olds where a weapon was used the normal starting point for sentencing is 25 years, whereas previously it was indeed only 15.
But violent crimes amongst young people in London has been on the rise, with the number of young people the victim of violent crimes and knife attacks in London at their highest level in five years.
In 2014 a YouGov poll found that only 39 per cent of people in the UK opposed bringing back capital punishment, and another YouGov poll this March showed 53 per cent of Leave voters wanted to bring back the death penalty.
But nine years after his son's death, Barry said that he doesn't believe this is the answer.
He said: “I understand where that position comes from where people say bring back hanging. In America they still have it and it hasn’t solved the problem there, it’s even worse.
“In the past I saw a bad crime on TV, I thought oh terrible and raise the punishment.
“These people who commit these actions are not thinking about their actions. If it did we would have solved crime thousands of years ago.
“It works for people who are thinking rationally. These young people are not thinking about it. We met young people in prisons over the years who all said they didn’t mean to do it.
“If you just raise the prison sentence we just end up with more young people in prison. We need to protect young people from themselves, they are as much their own worst enemies.
“I am just grateful that as a country that we are still horrified about it and we still want to find an answer.”
For more information on For Jimmy and their projects, you can visit forjimmy.org