Shop owner plays listening role in campaign against knife crime

A shop owner who offers refuge to young people who fear they may be attacked said that he hears “stuff that kids wouldn’t tell a policeman or somebody in authority”.

Crep Select, a clothes shop in Lewisham, south-east London, provides young people with a safe haven to go to if they feel under the threat of violence.

Owner Lawrence Roulland said that young people engage well with the service.

Operation Sceptre
A yellow Safe Haven for Jimmy sticker on the Crep Select store (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

He said: “We hear stuff that kids wouldn’t tell a policeman or somebody in authority, and within reason we listen and give advice but we’re basically here to listen.”

His business, which is in the Lewisham Shopping Centre, works with charity For Jimmy, which was set up in 2009 following the killing of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen, to provide the service.

The charity gets shopkeepers to agree to protect young people who feel they may be attacked by locking the door and calling a parent, guardian or the police.

Operation Sceptre
Lewisham shop owner Lawrence Roulland (left) speaking to Barry Mizen (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mr Roulland said: “Schemes like this should be more prevalent.”

Young people also come in to the shop to “calm down or talk about an issue”, he said, adding: “Locally my shop is seen as a safe place to go, it’s well respected and we have no theft.

“A lot of my customers are 15 to 25, which is the demographic where all the problems are.”

Teenager murdered in bakery
Jimmy Mizen was murdered in Lee, south east London (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Security guards in the shopping centre “need to be aware kids need their help”, he added.

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins visited the shop on Monday as the police launched a crackdown on knife crime.

Superintendent Darius Hemmatpour, of the Metropolitan Police’s Violent Crime Task Force, said initiatives like this are “extremely important”.

He added: “It’s not always about enforcement, it’s important that we’ve got diversion opportunities and that kind of engagement with young people.”

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