Ross Kemp warns carrying knives has become 'fashionable' ahead of Sheffield gang TV documentary
TV star Ross Kemp has said it has become ‘fashionable’ for teenagers to carry knives and machetes – ahead of a documentary exploring Sheffield’s knife gangs.
The ex-EastEnders star spent time filming in the city for his new Living With series – with his documentary on Britain’s knife crime epidemic set to air on ITV this Thursday at 7.30pm.
And he warns that many teens see carrying knives as a fashion accessory – comparing having a weapon to a new pair of trainers.
He said: “It’s fashionable to carry a knife now. Some kids are wearing under-arm holsters with a machete in it with a serrated back.
“It’s like wearing the latest trainers… to have the latest weapon. But if you’re caught with that you’re going to do four years. Some argue, ‘If I didn’t carry that, I’d be dead’.
“But heroes don’t carry knives. I don’t care how we go about saying that it’s not cool to carry a knife, so long as we get the message out that it isn’t.”
In 2018, there were nine fatal stabbings across South Yorkshire as well as dozens of other knife related incidents with 285 people stabbed to death in England and Wales — the highest rate since records began.
On radio station LBC’s In Conversation programme, he said: “A lot of the young people I spoke to say once you’re on the roads you’re making illegal money and you have to protect that illegal money with a weapon.
“There are very little options for people of that age. They get excluded from mainstream education, often at a very early age. They get put in pupil referral units.
“People say ‘I don’t want a bad kid in the same class as my kid dragging my kid back’. I totally agree.
“So rather than putting them into pupil referral units, we should build special classes inside our schools for those kids and then we encourage them and we find something that does resonate with them so we can place them back into mainstream education.”
The actor also thinks cuts to policing are also contributing to the rise in knife crime.
He said: “The ones that were cut probably weren’t all frontline officers. But you can’t cut 20,000 officers.
“One of the biggest areas where it’s had an effect is on the streets. There used to be more community officers.”
In the show, he meets teenagers who say they carry knives for self protection, parents who fear for their children's lives and community leaders taking drastic measures to put and end to the violence.
The star, who has turned his hand to gritty documentaries, spent time filming on the streets of Sheffield last year to take a closer look at the city’s knife crime problem.