The Leicestershire town trialing new ways of tackling knife crime

The Neighbourhood Watch Network is showcasing new approaches to steering young people away from knife crime.

Last week, Earl Shilton Youth Cafe in Leicestershire played host to a presentation from the local Neighbourhood Watch development worker Helen Cobley, youth worker Chris Newlyn and local police.

The session reinforced messages about the dangers of carrying knives, as well as giving young people the confidence to know what to do if they encounter violence or become aware that their peers are involved in knife crime.

The presentation was delivered to two cohorts of the Youth Cafe; those aged 11 to 14 and a second group of 14 to 18-year-olds. Around 56 young people took part in total.

Cobley says that the town of Earl Shilton does not have a problem with youth violence, but the young people who attend the cafe are aware of the rising trend of knife crime across the UK, and the community is keen to ensure that the area remains safe for young people.

Chris Newlyn, a youth worker at the cafe, said: “We are focusing on the risks, impact and effects of knife crime, including why it’s a mistake to carry a knife, why you should speak up if you know someone’s carrying a knife, and what action to take if someone has been stabbed.”

The presenters will use, for the first time, resources from the new Neighbourhood Watch Crime Prevention Toolkit for serious violence to help drive home the key messages. The toolkits are a free resource that people can use to run campaigns against serious violence in their local community.

“We used a mix of videos, including those featuring Leicester City FC and the boxer Anthony Joshua, and ran a quiz on knife crime,” said Newlyn.

“The young people also hear from the police and a peer educator, with opportunity for Q&A and to take part in interactive videos to see how the choices we make can have a big impact.”

As part of a Leicestershire Police campaign, each young person will be given a wristband that reads “#LivesNotKnives – Make the right choice” and has the Crimestoppers number printed on the inside to encourage reporting.

Leicestershire is not on its own in piloting anti-knife crime measures. In Woolwich, south-east London, the rate of crime is three times the national average, according to Neighbourhood Watch coordinator Cheryl Spruce.

Spruce has been running presentations in local primary schools to educate children about what to do if they find a knife and is also developing sessions for secondary school pupils.

The pilot schemes are part of a broader campaign by Neighbourhood Watch to encourage its 2.3 million members to start the conversation with their children, grandchildren and all young people about the dangers of carrying knives.

They want their members to use the resources from the expert-reviewed online toolkit – films, quizzes, websites – and the Home Office #knifefree campaign to help them start the conversation with young people.

The breadth of activity emphasises that everybody has a part to play in tackling violent crime – and that it is crucial to listen to children from a very young age about the challenges they face in their lives.

If you would like more information or to find out how you can get involved in raising awareness in your local area please contact Robin Newman.

With 2.3 million members in its network, Neighbourhood Watch has a unique reach and so is ideally placed to get involved in the campaign against knife crime.