Knife crime campaigner Mark Reynolds believes the tragic death of a 15-year-old boy outside a Huddersfield school should be a watershed moment in the fight against knife crime.

Mark, founder of Milnsbridge-based Rawthorpe Amateur Boxing Club, has helped young people for 25 years and now works on a national project to help combat the impact of knife crime on communities.

Mark, who delivers sessions in local schools on knife crime, gangs, drugs, exploitation and grooming, said: “I hope this is a watershed, a lightbulb moment where the authorities wake up to what is going on.

“This has been going on for years and it’s getting worse. Action is needed. Young people need educating and parents need educating and it’s about formulating a proper education package. I hope the council, the police and other authorities can come together and I want to be part of that meeting.”

Huddersfield was thrust into the national headlines on Wednesday when teenager Khayri McLean was stabbed to death outside North Huddersfield Trust School in Woodhouse Hill, Fartown.

Khayri, a student at the school, was attacked in the street at the end of the school day. Witnesses, many of them children, told how Khayri was stabbed repeatedly and a teacher and others rushed to his aid.

The teenager, described by his school as a “wonderful student”, was taken to Leeds General Infirmary for emergency surgery but died a short time later.

Police described the attack as “targeted” and the following morning a 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of murder. A 15-year-old youth was arrested later.

Mark Reynolds

Mark, 54, who helps lead an initiative called Knife Crime Matters in the North of England, set up Rawthorpe Amateur Boxing Club (RABC) to help keep young people on the straight and narrow and give them a focus and discipline in life.

Society has changed a great deal in a quarter of a century since RABC started and gang culture and social media ensnare young people, said Mark.

“I’m old school,” he said. “When we were kids and you got into a scrape with someone, the disagreement was soon over with and next day you were playing football together.

“Now with social media, the word goes out instantly and kids can be surrounded in minutes. It’s a gang thing.

“Young people these days are desensitised. They go on computer games shooting and stabbing eachother. They don’t have morals about putting that knife into someone. They think that’s the norm.

“Lots of young people say they carry knives for their own protection but seven out of 10 of those who carry knives will have their own knife used against them.”

RABC was part of a Government-funded initiative in 2018-19, under then Prime Minister Theresa May, to deliver a six-week programme on knife crime.

“There were six boxing clubs involved – two in London and others in Manchester, Liverpool and the Midlands – and it was a great piece of work,” said Mark.

“It came about because Mrs May was concerned that if we had riots like we had in Toxteth in 1981 it wouldn’t be petrol bombs it would be guns and knives.

Khayri McLean

“They used boxing as the tool because boxing has street cred among the kids and we worked with hundreds of young people.

“But when the scheme was over that was it, we haven’t heard anything since. You can’t stop and start something like this, you need on-going education.”

Mark is available to go into schools and deliver sessions where he talks to the kids on their level but school budget cuts mean there’s often no money to pay for the sessions.

“I can’t do it for free,” he said. “Our boxing club is all run by volunteers and it costs hundreds of pounds a week just to open the doors.

“I talk to young people in a language they understand and I am proud to say we have turned many young lives around. I’m not a teacher, I’m a big ugly fella with a bald head. Kids get me.

“We talk about gangs, drugs, exploitation, grooming and knife crime. It’s all linked. And parents need educating too. Where have their kids got those new trainers from, that latest iPhone?

“Grooming is about befriending kids, hooking them in and getting kids to do whatever they want them to do, selling drugs, passing drugs. Then they won’t let you leave and will do whatever it takes.

“We need education and that takes investment but what price do you put on a life?”

Clr Shabir Pandor

Kirklees Council leader Clr Shabir Pandor issued a statement and said he was “shocked and devastated” by what happened and the council would be supporting the school as staff and students came to terms with the tragedy.

He added: “This incident has shocked our whole community. But we are unified in our determination to keep residents safe and tackle serious crime in Huddersfield and beyond.

“The council is working with partner organisations, voluntary sector and community organisations to redouble our efforts to prevent serious crime and give reassurance to the community.

“Incidents like this are rare and, every day, individuals and organisations are working to prevent and deter violent crime in Huddersfield.

“Our youth services, community partnerships, ward councillors and many more will stand shoulder to shoulder with the police and residents as we work to make Huddersfield safer for everyone.”

Alison Lowe, Deputy Mayor of West Yorkshire for Policing and Crime, said, as a mother, what had happened was “heartbreaking.”

She said it was “a terrible but rare event” and added: “We all need to work together as a community to help young people understand the ramifications of carrying knives.”

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin said: “We must come together to address the causes of knife crime and prevent these tragedies occurring.”

Chief Supt Jim Griffiths, District Commander of Kirklees Police, said a full investigation was underway and there were reassurance patrols in the local area.

He added: “We have invested heavily in a whole range of work to reduce knife crime in Huddersfield and wider Kirklees including enforcement and education with young people.

“Knife crime in Kirklees has reduced by 6% over the past 12 months, while violent crime has reduced by 17%.

“A key ongoing scheme to reduce these offences has been the Positive Education Against Knives (PEAK) programme which was set up by the Early Action Team in partnership with the Huddersfield Town Foundation in 2019.

“Reducing knife crime can only be achieved with support from communities and I want to thank residents who have supplied any information about knife crime in the past and encourage them to keep making contact.”

Officers from West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team are continuing their inquiry and are asking that anyone who may have mobile phone or other video footage of the incident to send it in via a dedicated online portal at