New campaign to raise awareness of knife harm
New research undertaken by the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit (VVU) shows that 69% of parents in Essex are concerned about knife crime in their local area. Two thirds of parents are also worried about their child becoming a victim of knife crime.
The VVU has responded to these concerns by producing four short films and supportive literature to help parents talk to their children about the dangers of carrying a knife.
Research carried out by QA Research on behalf of the VVU, questioned more than 400 parents with children aged ten or over in order to understand attitudes to knife harm and knife crime in the county.
Parents were asked why they thought young people might carry a knife. The two highest answers were to gain respect and status amongst their peers and because they feel pressure to carry. Parents also felt that the most important thing to tell their children about the danger of carrying a knife was the risk of death to either themselves or another person.
Since 2018 serious violent crime and violence has reduced across Essex thanks, in part, to the creation of the Violence and Vulnerability Partnership and the work of the VVU and its partners. Tackling crime and robust enforcement activity sits alongside targeted interventions to reduce drug driven violence and gang activity.
The VVU is currently working on a number of initiatives to reduce knife harm across Essex, including reducing the circulation of knives across Essex through targeted police enforcement activity, knife amnesty’s and knife bins. Education campaigns inform young people and their parents on the dangers of knives and specific rehabilitation projects support those who have been arrested in possession of a knife. Finally, targeted interventions work with vulnerable groups of children and young people who may be at risk of being a victim of crime or exploited into crime.
The chair of the Violence and Vulnerability Partnership Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex said: “We want Essex to be a county that everyone feels safe in. Safe to go about their work, business and pleasure. And while violent crime is falling and being a victim of crime is rare, knife crime is too high and reducing it is extremely important to me and why I have invested heavily in the Violence and Vulnerability Unit.
“We know that education and awareness is one of the ways we can reduce levels of crime. We need young people to understand the truths about carrying a knife and understand the impact that one bad decision can have not only on one life but numerous lives and entire communities. As a parent myself I think it is vital we provide information and support on issues that parents might not be confident to tackle. I would encourage parents to watch our videos and have that conversation with their children about knife harm.”
The videos are all filmed in Essex with local drama students taking the roles. To accompany the films is a webpage with information, guidance and resources of how to talk about knife harm including three downloadable pdfs and video content from Essex Police and the Youth Offending Service.
The videos have been produced with the help of young people who have been arrested for carrying a knife and who want to share their experiences with others to affect positive change. By sharing what they wished they’d known, what their parents could have done and what might have stopped them from carrying a knife they hope this real-life experience will prompt a conversation and influence other young people to stay knife free.
The films can be viewed on the VVU website.
Page published on 27/02/2023.