Gun and knife crime campaign reaches more than 20,000 young people

Date published: 04 May 2018 13:29
Dated: 04 May 2018 14:27:28

A campaign that highlights the dangers of carrying guns and knives has now reached more than 20,000 young people across South Yorkshire.

Guns and Knives Take Lives is a South Yorkshire Police initiative aimed at 11 to 18-year-olds.

Since May 2017 when the project was re-launched, 143 sessions have been delivered to 20,270 young people.

Chief Officer of the Special Constabulary and Community Policing Development Officer Stephen Merrett presents the project to schools.

He said: “The response we have got from young people is really positive.

“Because the presentation is about real life and features case studies from people affected by gun and knife crime, you can see how engaged they are.

“It’s all about getting the message across early and giving young people the chance to really think about the consequences.”

The presentation features information about the law, examples of the work done by South Yorkshire Police ­­– in particular Operation Sceptre and the knife surrender – and local news articles about incidents.

Stephen, who works from the Community Safety Department based at Lifewise Centre in Hellaby, also talks the young people through how police respond to incidents and current statistics around gun and knife crime.

“The presentation is very anecdotal,” he added.

“I served in the army for 20 years, joining at just 16 years of age, I talk of my experiences in the army and the devastating impact weapons can have on people’s lives.

“I also inform them of potentially not being able to reach their aspirations because of a criminal record for possession of a bladed article.

“I talk to them about the reality of being around weapons and the very harsh consequences.”

The presentation is just one element of the work that the force is doing to tackle the issue of gun and knife crime.

Superintendent Una Jennings, force lead for Armed Criminality said: “It is a sad fact that more and more young people are choosing to carry dangerous weapons, which is simply unacceptable and we need to raise vital awareness of the risks of carrying guns and knives.

“It is important young people gain an understanding of how dangerous guns and knives can be which is why we deliver this impactive and emotional presentation.

“It can have fatal consequences and this should not be forgotten or undermined.” 

Feedback from schools has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Most schools who have targeted a particular year group have been asking me to return to deliver the presentation to more year groups,” added Stephen.

“We look forward to working with more of our schools, colleges and education support services in the future as Guns and Knives Takes Lives continues.”

"I talk to them about the reality of being around weapons and the very harsh consequences," said Stephen Merrett.
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