PRESS RELEASE 17 July 2008


 ‘Who is My Neighbour?’ report pleas for united action against gang-related crime:

As knife crime becomes a heightened national concern, Churches Together in England have published a timely report. It recommends ways in which the Government, churches and the police service can work together more effectively to reduce gang-related crime linked to drugs, guns and knives.

With a foreword by the Bishop for Liverpool, The Rt Revd James Jones, ‘Who Is my neighbour? : a church response to social disorder linked to gangs, drugs, guns and knives’ is produced by Churches Together in England and is to be launched on Monday 21 July in Westminster. The launch reception will be hosted by David Lammy MP, with church representatives, politicians and police officials in attendance.

The Revd Dr David Cornick, General Secretary of Churches Together in England said, “This report reaffirms our belief that the Christian Church is a sign of God’s love for our world. It emphasises the unique value of each young person’s life, and seeks to inspire the churches to reach out to young people in inner cities caught up in social disorder, as an act of good neighbourliness”.

At a time when gun and knife crime reports and discussions are dominating the headlines, ‘Who Is my neighbour?’ is an expression of the Church’s deep concern about social disorder and violent crime, especially the death of young people. The report highlights these worries and suggests practical ways to work together to address the issues head on. The recommendations encourage long-term strategic partnerships between churches, community groups, the police, criminal justice partners and local authorities.

The Revd Dr Joel Edwards, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance said: “This report is a vital and timely message. I hope that church leaders will use it to inform the way they work with young people, government, the police and Criminal Justice agencies; but also step up their efforts to tackle the underlying causes of the alarming trend of rising knife crime.”

Among the recommendations are: that churches should develop strategies to better support families, promote listening events for young people and encourage members to move back into deprived areas; that the Government should empower local people to tackle these issues themselves, and encourage inter-faith and inter-generational projects; that the police deepen its involvement with Restorative Justice projects and work closer with churches as key partners.

Plans are currently being drawn up for a series of receptions and discussion forums, based on this publication, in 10 key cities across the country to enable the findings to be applied in a regional setting and engage with local issues.