By Grahame Anderson
Local Kirklees campaigners including youth support workers Tanisha Bramwell and Stevie Oliver are picking up the pieces following the recent killing.
They’ve implored MP’s and the Government to take more action in order to prevent a similar tragedy happening again in the area saying: “Acknowledgement of the issue isn’t enough.”
A Tragic Night
Back In late June Brad from Heckmondwike, was fatally stabbed on Park Croft, in Batley, after a fight broke-out. Police offers were called to the area at about 10.28pm on a Sunday evening to reports of an altercation involving a group of people. It seems the 20-year-old was beaten and stabbed at approximately 10pm. Just hours earlier a gang armed with baseball bats attacked another victim nearby.
Asian Sunday has learned a number of youths will appear in court at the end of July charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder.
His shattered mum Kelly Gledhill said on facebook: “How does any Mum carry on living without her child? My heart is broken forever. RIP with the angels Brad, you will never know how much we loved you.”
Ironically Brad’s killing took place at against a big fall in knife crime in Kirklees across the past year.
Speaking after the tragedy, Detective Superintendent Jim Griffiths of Kirklees Police, said: “Our local neighbourhood policing teams, in conjunction with partner agencies, are working closely with our communities to understand problems and identify areas where greater support is needed.”
Wave Of Fear
The episode has brought a wave of fear into the area as the community comes to terms with what happened on that fateful night. It prompted the launch of a campaign to fight knife crime and all round calls for more to be done
“Following this terrible tragedy people are scared,” Tanisha told me. “I’ve spoken to a couple of parents who explained when their children go out, they memorise what they are wearing just in case anything happens. In any deprived area there are problems from crime to substance abuse. This was certainly a case of Brad being in the wrong place at the wrong time. His family are totally devastated.”
Tanisha wrote to Labour MP for Batley and Spen, Tracy Brabin, calling for help– she said in the letter: “This is simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Our young people, parents, children and communities deserve to feel safe in their town. Bradley Gledhill CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT be just another statistic for you. Someone’s son and brother aren’t coming home tonight because of this horrific attack.”
She went on: “This is not the first knife attack in Batley or local area and many community members and professionals fear that it wont be the last. How many more lives have to be lost for you and our local authority to prioritize this need.
“When HUGE CUTS TO SERVICE happen and the government takes away funds from youth workers, police, mental health, education etc. Young people are left to build their own relationships, with a lack of support comes a huge lack of education. Social needs such as gang crime, ASB and substance abuse surround them immediately, and with no mediation, or support on the ground, our young people are at risk everyday.”
Tanisha added: “When I contacted Tracy Brabin she was actually taken aback I’d taken the time to ask for help – she’s now agreed to come to our meetings involving our knife crime campaign. It must be said the West Yorkshire police have being doing a fantastic job in helping local people.”
In an open letter to her constituents Tracy Brabin said: “We have reached a crossroads when it comes to violent crime. Whilst recent government efforts have understandably been consumed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we must not allow the epidemic of knife crime and youth violence to continue to spread as it has.”
She added: “However, we also know that a better future is possible. To get there, we must tackle violence just as we have tackled coronavirus – by treating it as a contagious disease which can only be contained and defeated if we work, all of us, together.”
Home Office Response
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “Police forces in Yorkshire and the Humber will be recruiting more than 500 additional officers in this year alone, as part of the Government’s plan to get 20,000 additional police officers on our streets.
Stevie Oliver is a cousin of Brad and runs a mental health group in the area called ‘Take Ten’. She explained: “The local youths will tell you things have going on at Park Croft for years but nothing is ever done. Those closest to Brad are completely traumatised and not one official has reached out to them. Some youths are carrying knifes between eight and 12 inches in length.
“The Council have done absolutely nothing. I recently attended a meeting with Tracy Brabin and local councillors. I told them you need to go and speak to people in the area – as yet no-one from the council has done that. We need to try and underpin what these young people need.
“Driving through the area a few days ago a little boy came up close to the car pretending to shoot with a toy gun. When I got out and told him you shouldn’t be doing that it’s not nice, he just said it doesn’t matter. His mother came out and got upset – but it’s worrying.
“We need help here now so the death of Brad isn’t in vain.”
One youngster revealed what happened to Brad wasn’t much of a shock – things have been that bad. There’s nothing for the young people to do in the area.
Asian Sunday contacted Kirklees Council who gave us this brief statement from Councillor Shabir Pandor who said: “This is a tragic and deeply upsetting incident and my thoughts remain with the family of Brad Gledhill.
“I know the concern this will cause people in Batley and we will work closely with police and our communities to understand the problems and identify areas where greater support is needed.
“We must do everything we can to prevent terrible crimes like this happening anywhere in Kirklees. Lives should not be lost in this way.”
Stevie and her groups are happy to help anyone suffering from mental health problems over the killing or in general.