THE WAR ON KNIFE CRIME DRIVEN BY ANTI-VIOLENCE CAMPAIGNERS

The Knife Angel standing at Chester Cathedral as an anti-knife crime symbol.

Knife crime is growing to be the modern plague on our streets.

Over recent years, reports have shown that the number of knife crime offences has increased dramatically.

Figures from The Office for National Statistics show that in the year ending March 2018, there were over 40,000 knife crime offences.

In the year ending March 2014, there were over 25,000 knife crime offences reported to police.

This is an increase of 15,000 in the space of just four years.

Across the board, assault and robbery were the most common incidents where a knife was used as a weapon. 

However, according to the Home Office in 2018, police in England and Wales were at times too limited in their resources to flag when knives had been used due to the sheer amount they have to deal with.

The worst area for knife crime attacks in the year ending March 2018 was the London region, with a staggering 14,733 incidents being reported to the police.

The data only highlights the cases which were reported to the police, not to mention all of the incidents which went unreported. 

With crime figures soaring, many advocates are working to tackle knife crime by raising awareness through campaigns such as ‘Knife Free‘ and ‘Anti-Knife UK‘.

These organisations educate people about knife crime by telling real stories from around the country.

Closer to home in Redcar, Theresa Cave set up The Chris Cave Foundation in honour of her son who fell victim to knife crime in 2003 when he was only 17.

TUXtra spoke to her about the work she has been doing since then to campaign against knife crime.

Theresa Cave’s work for Point 7 in educating young people about the impact and consequence of knife crime is extremely important, especially because teenagers and young adults are allegedly the age group most affected by knife crime.

Data from The Office for National Statistics reported that there were 285 killings by a knife or sharp instrument in the 12 months ending March 2018. Of these, one in four were men aged 18-24.

Educating is becoming a very popular form of campaigning as if people learn about serious issues such as knife crime from an early age, they have more awareness around it.

Some schools offer this through their curriculum, welfare officers and specialist workshops.

For instance, Point 7 show the ‘real effects’ of ‘real crime’ to young people in the hope that this deters them from making these mistakes.

They share life stories as well as some images of real stab wounds to portray the saddening consequences of carrying a weapon.

Theresa Cave also supported the creation of the Knife Angel as a symbol of knife crime prevention.

The Knife Angel is a 27ft-high sculpture made from 100,000 knives.

It was designed with the aim of drawing people’s attention to the severity of knife crime and the damage it causes.

Crowds of people gathered to catch a glimpse of the Knife Angel.

Alfie Bradley, the creator of the sculpture, said: “The angel is made entirely out of knives.

“The main structure is a three tonne box section going through the middle with a frame around wrapped in stainless steel which I welded all of the knives onto.

“I received about two container loads of weapons. These weapons were from all 43 main constabularies in the UK.

“My last piece was half the size of this and I wanted to create something really big and impactful.

“At the time knife crime was everywhere on the news and it still is now so I thought it would be a really good idea to try to use the entire knife on the angel just to show people the amount of weapons that are out there and the damage it causes to all of the families.

“People come to visit the knife angel, and everybody takes pictures. It gets people talking and that’s what it’s all about.”

Some of the surrendered weapons are engraved with the names of real knife crime victims, including Chris Cave.

Alfie Bradley partnered with the British Ironwork Centre for the Knife Angel project.

They created over 200 knife banks for people to discard their knives.

As these amnesties were such a huge success, police have organised further knife drives.

For example, a permanent knife bin has been opened at Middlesbrough Police Station.

This operates on a ‘no questions asked’ basis, allowing people to dispose of them safely.

It comes after the success of a knife surrender campaign at which almost 400 knives and sharp instruments were given in across Cleveland police stations.

Superintendent Wendy Tinkler, lead on knife crime at Cleveland Police, said: “We want to provide a permanent facility for our communities to use and therefore a central deposit site will be maintained at Middlesbrough Police Station.”

If you would like to get involved in anti-knife crime campaigning, contact The Chris Cave Foundation.

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