Specialist knife-crime training is being carried out across the region to help teachers, nurses and other frontline staff steer young people away from violence.

Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness has rolled out the latest knife crime training designed to ensure young people at risk of gang-violence and criminality are spotted early and helped to turn their lives around.

The region’s only dedicated Violence Reduction Unit – set up by the Police Commissioner to prevent violent crime– has so far worked with more than 250 frontline key workers to better prepare them for supporting the region’s most vulnerable young people.

The Northumbria VRU sessions have so far been delivered in hospitals, schools, children’s homes, colleges and more, and see attendees taught the warning signs to look out, the services available to support those young people in need, and devastating impact just carrying a knife can have.

Praising the impact of the sessions, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said: “Taking this approach of preventing crime is so important, we absolutely cannot just arrest our way out of it. We need to better prepare staff to deal with vulnerable young people, and also give those same young people the knowledge to make positive life decisions”.

In addition to the sessions for professionals, the Commissioner’s VRU has also delivered knife crime awareness sessions to more than 3,400 young people this academic year.

Kim added: “Some of the staff that have attended the training see these young people at their most vulnerable moment – whether that be in an A&E department, or a custody suite – moments where these professionals can have a real chance to connect with the young person.

“No one should ever be carrying or using a knife, but unfortunately, there are incidents where we see this behaviour occur. Now those first responders will have the confidence and knowledge to help divert those involved in this lifestyle to the excellent services locally. We can break the cycle of violence.”

Those often first on scene or responding to a knife incident, including A&E doctors, as well as paediatrics staff from the Great North Children’s Hospital, have been just some of the staff involved in the knife crime awareness sessions.

Caroline Grayson, Consultant Paediatrician and Designated Doctor for Safeguarding Children at Newcastle Hospitals said: “We have been delighted with the response from the VRU team who have been delivering training in relation to knife crime and gang activity to staff across the organisation and in particular targeting staff in the emergency department and trauma team.

Such training helps our staff identify potential victims of knife crime who may not initially divulge the exact cause of their injuries when they present. It is hoped that with the appropriate approach and sensitive questioning, staff can make sure that any victim of knife crime receives the support they require.

In addition to the teaching sessions, we are hoping that we will soon be able to access support from dedicated youth workers in the Emergency Department working in close collaboration with the VRU and Edge North East team. This exciting initiative will ensure that any individual accessing our Emergency Department who is a victim of knife crime can receive immediate professional help and support.”