When my family and I rolled into Sidcup in 2004 from Greenwich, it was the quiet suburb you'd expect to find nestled on the border between Kent and Greater London. Far enough away from the Centre of London to have maintained a sleepy tranquility.  I'd always viewed my town through youthful rose-tinted glasses. The Afghanistan and Iraq Wars dominated the only media outlet I paid attention to: BBC News. 

But in May 2008 my rose-tinted glasses were shattered. In May 2008 the news covered an event soberingly close to home: Rob Knox was stabbed to death in a bar no more than half a mile from my home. The news of a budding young actor's senseless death rocked the nation, let alone the peaceful town of Sidcup.

Nearly 10 years later, Rob's mother, Sally, speaks in schools about the hazards of carrying a knife. "I use Rob's story to talk about choices, reporting anyone who carries a knife and not getting involved because you could be charged too."

There is a website called Fearless (https://www.fearless.org/en) which is part of Crimestoppers where you can report anonymously. Sally also tells me how 60% of people stabbed get injured by their own knives: carrying a knife for protection is hazardous. 

Sally describes Rob as a good-hearted joker, "always being told off at school for talking and mucking about." Rob was very loyal to his large number of friends: "He always stood up for his friends and was the one to step in when there was trouble as he was quite a big lad and did Taekwondo." Sally always warned him in case people had weapons. Rob was a budding actor, starring in Harry Potter. "When he got the Harry Potter part, his friends thought he was joking!"

Rob's life was tragically cut short on the 24th of May 2008. "On the night he was killed he was celebrating with friends after finishing filming Harry Potter," Sally tells me. "He was buying the drinks as he got paid quite a bit of money. A lad who was there the week before causing trouble came back and couldn't get in the pub so he went home and got two knives." Karl Bishop lived in Carlton Road in Sidcup. "When he got back to the pub he threatened people outside before stabbing 4 people and killing Rob. He was arrested that night." Karl Bishop was sentenced to life in prison early the next year.

The media took the breaking news and at 6am the next morning it was reported across the world. Sally was harassed at home by the press. "They were outside my house and the police had to keep them away. Rob tried to protect all the boys but it was reported that he was trying to protect his brother. This was very upsetting for Jamie." Jamie, Rob's younger brother, has spoken openly about "learn[ing] to come to terms with it."

Despite the media brutally pursuing this story, it hasn't been pursued since. Sally says, "We always wanted Rob's name to live on and started the Rob Knox Foundation. We have the Rob Knox film festival every year, to remember him. We have also just started a Rob Knox film academy."
Ten years on from Rob's violent murder, Sally tells me, "I feel sick every time I see another young person killed. I know a lot of people and agencies doing good work but the government needs a cohesive approach." She went on to say, "We need to be more proactive in education to prevent the carrying of knives and need to be tougher in sentencing."

Knife crime isn't a problem that is going away. Police recorded 36,998 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument July 2016-June 2017. Compared to 29,476 the previous year, this is a 26% increase. This Year, 4 teenagers were stabbed to death on New Year's Eve only and so far this year (at the time I write) 50 teens have died as a result of a stab or gunshot wound. This figure isn't likely to stay static for very long, however - yesterday it stood at 48; 2 more teens have been killed since. Sally doesn't feel optimistic  "unless changes are made."

Sally believes that knife crime has risen again due to police cuts and cutting down on stop & search; there needs to be more communication between social services and the police. She also says that schools should include education about the consequences of knives and keeping safe. 

In schools, Sally always finishes by reminding people, "If you know someone that carries a knife, how would you feel if they injured or killed your friend, brother or sister? You would have to live knowing that you didn't make the right choice.'" Nobody wants their parent to get the same call that Sally did, ten years ago.