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Children as young as six are carrying knives and 10-year-olds are arming themselves with weapons out of fear, the country's top police officer has been told.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick heard children 'feel naked' without them, while some are too scared to cross the capital's roads unarmed.
Ms - Dick - Root - Knife - Crime
Ms Dick vowed to get to the root of knife crime as she visited a youth centre in Putney, south-west London, meeting community leaders, reformed gang members and the family of Lewis Elwin - a 20-year-old trainee electrician stabbed to death in Tooting last year.
The Commissioner promised more officers in schools and others in every ward to help build relationships with young people.
Community - Groups - Relationship - Police - Force
She was told community groups are 'screaming out' for a relationship with police, but the force is 'not following up'.
One woman told Ms Dick knife crime affects children far younger than the teenagers and young men normally associated with it.
Housing - Estate - Six-year-olds - Knives - Schools
She said: 'On the housing estate, it's six-year-olds that are carrying knives, because they think they won't be stopped. You need to start there, in the primary schools - you need to tell much younger people.'
Josh Osbourne, a mentor at youth charity Carney's Community, said 10-year-olds live in fear, saying: 'They can't even cross the road because they're at odds or in a dispute with somebody else from literally the same postcode but across the road.'
Andy - Smith - Enterprise - Feel - Good
Andy Smith, from social enterprise The Feel Good Bakery, told Ms Dick young people carry blades for protection, saying: 'They say they feel naked if they haven't got their knife with them.'
The capital has seen a wave of knife attacks in recent weeks, with more than a dozen people killed or seriously injured.
Scotland - Yard - Phase - Operation - Sceptre
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