Pro Bono initiatives often center around spreading access to justice. This is achieved by creating and encouraging opportunities for lawyers and law students to provide legal services for individuals, predominantly from marginalised communities, who face continuing challenges when it comes to approaching the legal system.
The Pro Bono society at the University of Leicester upholds these values through rigorous initiatives which assist in achieving such ends. A short week ago, a presentation was organised by all factions which make up the society, to educate the community on the issue of knife crime. It was arguably a successful demonstration which encouraged increased thought and avenues of action regarding the issue of knife crime. The Miscarriages of Justice initiative discussed questions regarding the correlation between an increase of stop and search leading to an increase of disproportionate justice. The Amicus Project examined the parallel between America’s gun crime versus the United Kingdom’s knife crime. To put the issue into a global perspective, Lawyers Without Borders expanded on the topic by examining the global stance on knife crime. The event also included presentations from the Insight Project, whose goal is to inspire young minds to discover their passion for the law through presentations surrounding the subject. They encouraged thought on the reasons young people carry knives and the laws which surround knife possession and use. Furthermore, Street Law, a Pro Bono group dedicated to bridging the gap between the law and community, gave a presentation which included statistics of knife crime as well as outlining the ethnic and racial injustices in communities especially from stop and search actions by the police. For example, outside of London, you’re 43 times more likely to be stopped and searched without justification if you’re Black than if you’re White. Street Law also provided wonderful insight on different ways communities are attempting to combat knife crime, for example through educational programs. School and youth clubs created to help combat knife crime were also discussed, both their pros and cons. Lastly, Street Law gave an informative demonstration on what officers can and cannot do or say during a stop and search and what our legal rights and responsibilities are. The persistent efforts of the various Pro Bono groups invite and promote the prospect of increased engagement from the community regarding important issues such as knife crime.
As International Correspondents, it was vital to make connections with our respective localities. The reoccurring issue of violence caused by weapons related crimes within developed nations/countries is not limited solely within the United Kingdom. it should be noted that gun related crimes have increased throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) during the 21st century. The two cities which have faced an uptick in gun crimes within the GTA are specifically Scarborough and Etobicoke. For instance, within the city of Scarborough an alarming rate of gun crime has arisen, and despite the bail process being rigorous and expensive regarding these incidents, social dilemmas have triggered individuals to resort to gun violence to resolve disputes. Within Etobicoke, gun crime has escalated the homicide rate in comparison to previous years. To mitigate these unfortunate events, the
Toronto Police Department implemented the ‘Centralized Shooting Response Teams’ which can be compared to a ‘watchdog’ program, as it aims to alleviate and address these issues immediately (Joanna Lavoie, Toronto Star). Gun crimes exist worldwide, especially within North America where neighbouring nations such as the United States of America have provided 80% of the weaponry which increased gun violence within Toronto (Joanna Lavoie, Toronto Star). All in all, the topic of gun crime is frustrating due to the upheaval of shootings leading to murders. After all, municipalities and the federal government have not effectively established a plan that would reduce guns from entering Canada. Therefore, the persistent efforts of various Pro Bono groups invite and promote the prospect of increased engagement from the community regarding important issues such as knife crime as well as other weapon related crimes within various jurisdictions.
The Knife Talk presentation also included creative YouTube videos that shed light on knife crime. The links to all videos are below:
One Swift Action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeMJMepljzs
Knife Blood on UK Hospital Floors (BBC): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIczS-SY9KQ