Four Teenagers Arrested After 12-Year-Old Girl Killed in Street Attack

Ava White died after an argument with a group of boys in Liverpool city centre, in what is the latest violent death of a young person to hit the UK.

26 November 2021, 1:39pm

A 12-year-old girl has been killed after an argument reportedly broke out with a group of boys at an annual Christmas tree lights switch-on in Liverpool city centre on Thursday night. 

Ava White was assaulted, believed to be stabbed, near a busy shopping street in the northwest English city after witnesses saw her group arguing with another group of teenagers. 

Merseyside Police said that they were called to reports of an assault at 8:39PM, where they found a member of the public giving Ava first aid. She was taken to Alder Hey Children's Hospital with critical injuries but died soon after.

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Police said she was attacked after her group had become involved in an argument. "We believe that Ava and her friends had been involved in a verbal argument which culminated in Ava being assaulted causing catastrophic injuries," said Assistant Chief Constable Jon Roy. The suspects then ran from the scene.

Four teenage boys from the inner city neighbourhood of Toxteth, one aged 13, two aged 14 and one aged 15, have been arrested on suspicion of murder.

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Dame Rachel de Souza, the children’s commissioner for England, wrote: “This kind of violence involving a child and with such tragic consequences is shocking at any time, but when the victim is 12 it’s particularly so.”

Ava’s death is the latest in a wave of teenage street homicides in the UK. 

The number of teenagers being killed - and killing – on UK streets is on the rise. In January Olly Stephens, 13, was stabbed to death by two boys aged 13 and 14 in a park in Reading. In April Fares Maatou, 14, was fatally stabbed with a machete in his school uniform outside a pizza restaurant in east London, in April. Two boys aged 14 and 15 will go on trial for his murder next year. Last week 14-year-old Jermaine Cools was stabbed to death in Croydon, south London. 

In London, 28 teenagers have been killed so far this year, with the death toll nearing the record number of 29 teenagers killed in 2008.  Homicides involving victims aged 16-24 in England and Wales have risen by more than 60% in the last five years, more than any other age group. 

“Like with Rhys Jones and Jamie Bulger, this tragedy has got be a game changer for Liverpool,” said Paul Walmsley, a youth intervention consultant who works with children at risk of joining gangs in Liverpool. “The city will react. You will see this at the Liverpool match tomorrow. Something has to change to stop this, because teenagers stabbing each other in the city centre is happening all the time, the videos are all over social media. They go there in groups of 20 or 30, end up seeing someone they don’t like and there’s an argument and someone always has a knife.” 

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On Wednesday a teenager stumbled bleeding into the City of Liverpool College in the city centre after being stabbed at around 5PM. On Halloween a 17-year-old was stabbed multiple times near a park in Sefton, north Liverpool and earlier this month a 17 year old was stabbed at a music event in the city. 

Walmsley said a class of 14- to 16-year-olds he was teaching when he spoke to VICE World News all said they knew children who always carried knives. They said Ava’s death would not put them off going to the city centre. 

He said the rise in children stabbing each other across the UK was a result of a toxic mix of austerity, strong weed being smoked at an early age and a lack of respect for police. “There is this gang culture thing of not backing down and saving face. A lot of these kids live in their own world, where they are left alone to do what they want,” he said. 

Grace Robinson, a Liverpool-based expert on youth crime who runs Black Box Research and Consultancy, told VICE World News that teenagers involved in youth violence are often isolated and disenfranchised from mainstream society. 

“Elders are getting them involved from young ages, showing them a lifestyle that they could have, but which is largely off limits. Their education doesn’t come from school, it comes from the streets and from those who have gained significance and money from crime. They see it on social media, they see it in their communities, they see it as the only option.” 

She said these conditions have been created by “a lack of public service funding, children having nothing to do and no mental health support”.


Tagged:

liverpool, homicide, knife crime, world crime, worldnews, ava white

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