Week of action to raise awareness of the impact of knife crime
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Staffordshire Police’s ongoing Ditch the Blade campaign is to focus on the impact knife crime has on communities this week.
Between 16 – 22 May, supporting the national campaign Operation Sceptre, police and partners will highlight the impact of knife crime through engagement and advice, carrying out intelligence-led operations, weapons sweeps and high-visibility patrols to target and disrupt offenders who carry and use knives.
Knife amnesty bins will be available for the safe disposal of knives at Burton, Cannock, Hanley and Longton Police Stations.
Officers and police community support officers will be reaching out to the public, including young people and parents. They will be encouraging conversations about the dangers of carrying a knife and providing leaflets for families so they know what to do if they are concerned about their child being involved in knife crime.
There will also be an online forum around knife crime taking place on Wednesday 18 May at 7pm - 8pm. Questions from the public will be answered by representatives from the police and our partners and can be submitted here. Questions can be sent in advance ahead of the forum.
Rob Hessell, Chief Inspector at Staffordshire Police, said: “Knife crime can affect families from various backgrounds and areas. It is important we break down the stigma and encourage open and honest discussion on the topic.
“Parents and families can help to prevent knife crime. Speak to your children about the issues, about their thoughts, worries etc around it and encourage open and honest discussion. Most young people carry due to fear of others carrying, when in fact the reality is 99% of 10-29- year-olds don’t carry a knife.
“We need to work together - It requires the commitment, not only of a range of agencies, but also of the communities of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to prevent the loss of life and permanent physical and psychological damage that serious violence can cause.
“If you are worried about a child and think they are involved with knife crime, visit our website for advice.”
The Knife Angel was also in Stoke-on-Trent city centre last month, a 27-foot tall statue made up of 100,000 knives and blades that have been confiscated by police forces up and down the country. The sculpture was in the city as part of a National Anti-Violence tour.
Reflecting on the appearance of the Knife Angel in Stoke-on-Trent, Rob said: “The Knife Angel coming to Stoke-on-Trent provided us an opportunity to build on the ongoing work to tackle knife crime through our Ditch the Blade campaign which supports the national Operation Sceptre initiative.
“The Knife Angel encourages the surrender of knives and 1,800 of the knives used in the sculpture were provided from amnesties in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Surrender bins for the safe disposal of knives are available at police stations in the county.”
Chit Chat 4 U, a group who support families of those who are victims of or involved in gangs, youth violence and knife crime, is supporting the Ditch the Blade campaign.
Larissa Cooke from the group said: “The Chit Chat 4 U group want to help to highlight the impact that knife crime can have on the whole family. Parents from our group who have lived experiences have shared their stories, which shows it can happen to any family. We want to encourage open and honest discussions about knife crime to break down the stigma and stereotypes often associated with this.
“The group also organised knife sweeps of parks in Stoke-on-Trent alongside PCSOs as part of the Knife Angel visit. This is to make these spaces safer for the local community.”
Rob also adds the dangers of carrying a knife and what the consequences could be: “When you carry a knife, you are risking everything. Prison, being a victim of crime and even ending up in hospital are all real risks. Beyond this, knife crime has devastating personal effects on you, your friends and your family.
“While some young people pick up a knife to feel safer, they don’t realise that carrying it makes them more likely to get into serious danger. A knife can escalate things way out of your control, and make a bad situation much worse.
“If you are worried that a friend may be carrying a knife or you feel like you are being pressured into doing so, there is help available.”
Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown added: “We fully back this campaign. The impact of knife crime on families can be devastating, and we’re committed to working in partnership with Staffordshire Police to do all we can to combat it. This work includes supporting youth groups and children across the city with a number of innovative initiatives, including a ‘Safe Yeah’ campaign, which has used drama and dance as a way to educate young people to the dangers of knife crime.
“We strongly urge people in the city to take the opportunity to use the knife amnesty bins as appropriate, and for families to follow the police guidance if they are worried about knife crime, so that their concerns can be raised and responded to.”