Cleveland Police has launched a knife crime prevention campaign to raise awareness of the dangers associated with carrying knives or blades.
A key part of the campaign is also to raise awareness of the help and support available to those young people who are scared or feel pressured to carry a knife or are scared of being hurt by a knife or other bladed weapon.
The campaign, entitled ‘Carrying a Blade Doesn’t Give You an Edge’ is aimed at 11 to 24 year-olds, and centres around a short animation, created by a local art student, which tells the story of a teenager who got involved in knife crime, but has now managed to turn his life around.
Pic: Assistant Chief Constable Richard Baker, speaking at the launch.
There have been 609 knife crimes so far this year (January 1st – August 31st 2023). Of those, 186 victims have been under the ages of 25, and 153 knife crime suspects have been under the age of 25. Nationally, Cleveland Police is the second highest police area for levels of knife crime, after West Midlands.
Cleveland Police is working alongside our partners to implement a long-term plan aimed at reducing knife crime. We use data and analysis to ensure that our proactive patrols are in the right place at the right time, to target violent crime, as well as education and engagement sessions in schools and colleges across Cleveland aimed at preventing youths from becoming involved in knife crime by demonstrating the serious repercussions of carrying a blade.
Supporting this campaign is the Cleveland Violence Reduction Unit, Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, Middlesbrough College and Consultant Vascular Surgeon at James Cook University Hospital, Barney Green.
Chief Inspector Stu Hodgson, the force lead on knife crime, said: “Unfortunately, incidents of knife crime on Teesside are increasing, along with the number of young people getting hurt or caught carrying knives and other bladed articles.
“Most of these children and young people have no idea of the danger in which they put themselves and others, by picking up and taking a knife out in public.
“The purpose of the campaign is to educate teenagers about the reality of carrying a knife and show them that there is help out there if they feel themselves being pulled into this type of crime. We are here to help and we want to protect them from harm – this is not just about us wanting to catch more young people with knives.
“Carrying a knife or other bladed weapons is a serious criminal offence and if convicted of this, it can seriously damage someone’s future.
“We want young people to stop and think about how they would feel if they seriously hurt or even killed someone. It is a myth that carrying a knife or blade provides you with protection – the reality is that it makes you more susceptible to harm.
“Children and young people should be aware of the stark consequences of carrying a knife, but need to also know that we have officers who can, and want to, help them. Being arrested for carrying a knife doesn’t mean that this is the life you now have to follow. Things could have turned out very differently for Callum had he not engaged with us and accepted our help and intervention when he did. I want others to feel that they can come forward and accept help.
“If you feel trapped in a life you don’t want to be living, engaging and working with our Youth Offending Team and our partner agencies, can help you to find positive diversions and help you to aspire to go to college, get an apprenticeship or job. Think about the life you want and the life you could have.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner said: “It’s great to see this powerful messaging from Cleveland Police about the life-changing consequences of carrying a knife, as well as reminding young people that it’s never too late to put their weapons down and seek help.
“This campaign supports the ongoing work of the Cleveland Unit for the Reduction of Violence (CURV) to reduce violence in the area, including the brand-new custody navigator scheme.
“The navigator scheme provides intensive support for young people entering police custody for violent offences and like this campaign, hopes to encourage that ‘lightbulb’ moment in which they turn their backs on crime for good.”
Barney Green, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at James Cook University Hospital, added:
“This campaign is a fantastic opportunity to bring a focus on a major issue we have here in Teesside, but also delivers a positive note that we can make it better.
“I think a campaign like this will help shape individuals’ thoughts who, in turn, will come together with other like-minded people to help create a movement that will change our culture.”
Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive at Middlesbrough College, said: “This is a very welcome and timely campaign from Cleveland Police on an issue which affects all too many young people in the UK today.
“Raising awareness of knife crime will hopefully help more young people to avoid its often tragic consequences, to live their lives and pursue their dreams.”
Middlesbrough College is one of the largest colleges in the North-East and is home to more than 15,000 students, including over 2,000 apprentices.
If you need a copy of the animation, or if you require stills from the animation, please email [email protected]
Pic from left to right: John Holden, CURV; Assistant Chief Constable Richard Baker; Barney Green, Consultant Vascular Surgeon, NHS; Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Hodgson, Cleveland Police.