Hundreds of schoolchildren receive the message to #DitchTheBlade during latest successful campaign
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Hundreds of schoolchildren have received vital messages around the pitfalls of slipping into knife crime during Staffordshire Police’s successful week-long crackdown.
The renowned #DitchTheBlade initiative was rolled out across the county in a concerted effort to take dangerous weapons off the streets.
The force went into the week-long campaign, which began on Monday 9 November, encouraging parents and carers to continue having conversations about knife crime with children and young people as part of its heightened week of activity.
Among the success stories were nearly a dozen parcels containing dangerous bladed articles ordered online intercepted by the police working with Border Force officials; 150 blades put into knife amnesty bins and taken off the streets; and stop and searches uncovering three knives leading to arrests.
Mark Hardern, Youth Violence Coordinator for Staffordshire Police, said: “Educating those in schools, colleges and universities is just one of a raft of tactics we employ to spread the anti-knife crime message. We don’t just target the young and we speak to all walks of society.
“Policing-wise a number of individuals were visited and where evidence allowed, people were stop and searched in hot spot locations.
“We targeted specific hotspot locations along with educational leaders and partner agencies in a bid to continue to keep the reducing the use of the knife across the force area which requires the multi-agency response.”
On top of this, officers attended a workshop at Staffordshire University to engage with students about the campaign; the force released two episodes of their podcast ‘The Beat’ as part of the campaign – one including an interview with anti-knife crime campaigner Ali Cope; there was partner education support from other agencies such as Ruff and Ruby and other ongoing partnership education work as such messages need to be constant; and the latest year-round Safe+Sound campaign activities for youngsters included special anti-knife crime messaging.
Officers also worked with the Stoke-on-Trent Association of School, College and Academy Leaders (SASCAL) and the Stoke-on-Trent-based Together We Make A Difference (TWMAD) team where a special presentation was given to school students with the brother of a knife crime victim to show youngsters what happens to families after a life is tragically lost. This was with Byron Highton, from Preston, who tragically lost his brother Jon-Jo to knife crime aged just 18 in 2013.
Speaking about the successful response to the various tactics by students across the county, SASCAL’s PSHE Co-ordinator Vicki Spall said: “There are a number of students who’ve come forward following the 90-minute presentation by TWMAD and Byron and said ‘I’m involved in this’ and ‘I’m concerned and I’d like some support’, so that’s been really positive.
“The overall evaluation has been that the pupils were really attentive, it got the message across, they were talking about it in breaks and after the session and there was a buzz around it. There has certainly been a number of people who’ve contacted the speaker and told him it was ‘amazing’ and ‘moving’ and ‘opened my eyes’.
“I think they learned how knife crime doesn’t just affect the victim, it affects other people and we hope that this will stop young people carrying knives.”
Marvin Molloy, from TWMAD, said: “This is a campaign to get youngsters to ditch the blade and our knife crime safety presentation falls really nicely in that arena.
“This project was arranged earlier on in the year to be delivered and now there has been about 1,500 young people who’ve had their awareness raised about knife crime and this is ultimately what the #DitchTheBlade campaign attempts to do and that’s what we’re attempting to do.”
Mark Hardern added: “The police will always get asked what we are doing about knife crime which, clearly, we are part of the solution for. However, by some of the great work taking place with different partners such as TWMAD and the support of SASCAL it all helps in the multi-agency messaging to tackle the issue.”
Anyone who has any concerns around a young person becoming involved in knife crime or carrying a knife can report their concerns via our website, through direct message on Facebook and Twitter or by calling 101. In an emergency always call 999.
Tackling knife crime is a priority for Staffordshire Police and partners, under the multi-agency serious violence strategy. It is something that is focused upon every day of the year, with national intensification weeks used to highlight the issue and the work being done in this area.
The next intensified week of action is set to take place in Spring 2021. More information on the campaign and advice is available here: www.staffordshire.police.uk/ditchtheblade