A campaign to tackle knife crime and serious violence in Sussex has been launched today (September 14th).
Sussex Police, local authorities and community groups are joining forces to educate young people on the legal and personal consequences of carrying blades.
Images and animations will appear at busy locations around the county and close to schools to help raise awareness of the potential dangers.
Chief Inspector Paul Phelps said knife crime was a complex issue and everyone needed to work together to help keep young people safe.
“Carrying a knife puts you and those around you at a greater risk,” he said. “We hope our campaign helps deliver this message to the young people who need it.”
According to Katy Bourne, Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, the campaign will provide opportunities for youngsters to discuss the motivations of carrying knives.
“It is so important that real-life stories are shared with young people, so they can understand the life-changing consequences this could have on them,” she said.
A 17-year-old girl from Sussex, who wishes to remain anonymous, has revealed how a dispute when she was 15 escalated and changed her life forever.
“I don’t really know what I was thinking but I took a kitchen knife out with me and left my mum a note to say I was going to sort things out,” she recalled. “I had no intention of using the knife but it made me feel safe knowing I had it.”
Her worried mum called the police. They caught the teenager with the knife and she was arrested.
“I was given bail conditions and had to appear in court,” she said. “I was given a 12 month court order. This will always be on my file now and because of this I will not be able to work with children like I always wanted to do.”
The youngster can now see what a stupid mistake she made – and she’s now urging others in similar situations to learn from her experience.
“I am still young and have been through a lot the last couple of years but I’ve realised now what I did was wrong and if I can help someone by telling my story I will be happy,” she added.
As well as providing images and animations, the campaign will highlight signs to watch out for and where parents and carers can get help.
Sussex Police will also be rolling out an educational video to be shown in schools, pupil referral units and children’s homes which shows the personal consequences of knife crime from the perspective of an officer, a medic, the parent of a victim and a reformed knife carrier.
If you are under 18, you feel threatened, unsafe or scared about becoming a victim of knife crime you should try to talk with your parent or carer, or alternatively talk to Childline for help on 0800 1111 or go online at childline.org.uk.
If you are a parent or carer and you are concerned someone you care for is in danger of becoming a victim of knife crime, try to talk with them in the first instance or seek advice from Family Lives on 0808 800 22 22.
You can report knife crime online or by calling 101. In an emergency always call 999.
To report knife crime anonymously go to https://www.fearless.org/en/give-info
Main photo: Harrison Kugler