Campaigners and victims’ families on Friday made a fresh plea for more action to tackle London’s knife crime epidemic amid a surge in offences and the murder of a teenager.
The body of Tyler Donnelly, 19, was discovered by joggers in Hanworth Park, Feltham, west London, shortly after 7.40am on Thursday. He had been stabbed to death. Tyler had left his home in Feltham at around 9.10pm on Wednesday evening and rode his bike along Elmwood Avenue.
At some stage he entered the park, but never returned to his family. He was the first teenager to be murdered in London this year.
Detective chief inspector Brian Howie, from the Metropolitan Police’s Homicide Command, said: “Tyler’s family and friends are inconsolable after receiving the worst possible news imaginable — our thoughts are with them and they are being supported by specialist officers.”
He added: “If you were in the park and saw something, regardless of the reason you were there, please do get in touch. Our focus is on what happened to Tyler and who was responsible. Similarly, if you were driving through Elmwood Avenue, returning home or out walking, did you notice anything? Did you perhaps see Tyler, who was wearing dark clothing, riding his grey bike or did you see him with anyone?
“The H25 bus route goes through Elmwood Avenue. Were you travelling through this area on Wednesday or in the early hours of Thursday? Did you see Tyler or anyone matching his description?
Campaigners said far greater efforts were needed to persuade young people not to carry knives and to spell out the devastating consequences of doing so. There were also calls for more intensive police action to tackle the problem, a crackdown on unlawful knife sales online or in shops, and more work to rehabilitate blade carriers who enter the criminal justice system.
The demands follow the publication of Office for National Statistics figures showing a 22 per cent rise in knife crime in London in the 12 months to the end of September last year.
The new statistics showed there were 14,000 knife crimes recorded by police in the capital during the year — up by 2,531 on the comparable figure 12 months earlier. More than half the offences were knifepoint robberies but there were also 74 blade killings and 214 rapes or other sexual offences carried out with a knife.
Other offences included 67 attempted murders using a knife and 4,328 blade crimes involving an assault with injury or an attack with the intent to cause serious harm. The mother of an aspiring lawyer who was stabbed to death in a case of mistaken identity as he returned from a trip to Waitrose in Kilburn in 2021 said the new knife crime figures were “simply terrifying”.
Jasna Badzak, bedridden due to the stress caused by 22-year-old Sven’s murder, wants mandatory jail sentences for anyone caught with a weapon. She told the Evening Standard: “London isn’t the same city. Knife criminals are leading the way because there are no consequences. Everything has been tried, except of course throwing them all in jail.
“When I hear another family has suffered such loss, I feel horrible. I say to people, ‘I don’t want to know. I can’t take this anymore’. I just want to be reunited with my Sven, the kindest person to have walked this earth.”
The father of Damilola Taylor said “nothing had changed” since his 10-year-old son was killed in Peckham in 2000. Justice campaigner Richard Taylor added: “It has become obvious that the policies of the Mayor, Government and police to tackle knife crime are not working. I feel so disappointed.
“All the efforts and enforcement are nothing if you don’t fund youth charities making a difference in local communities and tackle mental health that is driving kids to carry knives.”
Labour London Assembly member Unmesh Desai added that the ban on zombie knives should be extended and that action against retailers was also required.