A hard-hitting campaign determined to stop knife crime in the North East has been launched today by Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness and Northumbria’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).

The ‘Knives Impact Everyone’ campaign highlights the devastating consequences carrying a knife can have, as well as pointing people to support and advice.

The emotionally charged graphics which feature unanswered text messages will be plastered across social media as well as on the backs of buses, billboards, and kiosks.

It features the words: ‘Knife crime cuts deep. Whether you’re carrying or you’re a victim, the consequences impact everyone; family, friends, emergency services and communities’.

The campaign has been designed with input from school children across the region, all keen to play a part in ending violence that has ruined lives in the region.

Although knife crime is a national problem, the North East is no exception and in recent years there have been too many lives taken too soon due to the evils of knife crime in cases which sent shock waves through local communities.

In a bid to fight such devastation, in 2019 Kim McGuinness set up the region’s first Violence Reduction Unit. The unit works with a range of services and youth organisations to engage as many young people as possible, and to understand the causes of knife crime and how to prevent it.

Through its education team, 1270 knife crime awareness sessions have been delivered by the VRU to 34,676 young people since 2020. A further 119 knife crime training sessions to 3016 practitioners since have also taken place.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “We must reach kids with the right messages and the right opportunities – that’s how we prevent any more lives being lost in the North East.

“I don’t want to see another family go through the devastation of losing a loved one to knife crime. We’ve seen some incredibly brave families go through the unthinkable and we must put our all into stopping history repeating itself.

“Worried parents, teachers, police officers, not to mention so many young people themselves – everyone is desperate to put an end to senseless stabbings. Hundreds came to the memorial match for Tomasz – so many young voices were making it crystal clear – they don’t want there to be a senseless stabbing ever again and that’s why we made sure we engaged with kids when designing this. We need to understand the issue and we need them on board. We need real change and we have listened to these voices. I want to make it clear though 99% of kids don’t carry knives but there is 1% that do, and we must reach them, we must stop them.”

She continued: “This campaign must powerfully push out our message alongside all the youth work, the interventions, and the wider family support we are offering. I want young people to know of the consequences, know not to carry and a knife and know they need to report knife crime and how they can get support. For every person we dissuade from carrying a knife that could be potentially life-saving – so this campaign is incredibly important.”

Through the Violence Reduction Unit, Kim McGuinness has invested £100,000 in local communities to tackle violent crime this summer. This follows success last summer where violent crime dropped 12.2% and again by 10% in the winter.

Chief Superintendent Helena Barron, of Northumbria Police, said: “We very much support the campaign from the Violence Reduction Unit and welcome any initiative which helps highlight and reduce the devastation knife crime can cause.

“Knife crime is a complex issue and one each and every one us has a responsibility to help tackle.

“I hope this campaign will make people realise the potential consequences of carrying a knife or weapon – not only could you take away someone else’s future and cause untold pain to their loved ones, but also ruin your own life and those of your family and friends.

“We would urge anyone who does carry a knife to think again and stop.”

She added: “Tackling knife crime is a priority for us and we have officers, staff and volunteers working every single day to reduce the impact of this type of offending.

“From knife searches, targeting suspects, patrolling key locations and helping educate young people about the dangers of carrying weapons – we are committed to playing our part.

“We also work with our partners, through diversionary schemes and the Violence Reduction Unit to prevent people getting involved in this type of offending and steer them away from crime.

“We would also continue to ask for your support – for families to have conversations about the impact carrying a knife can have, and if you know someone takes a weapon out with them please report it to the police so we can take action.

“Our region is an incredible place to live and work, with a fantastic community spirit and by all pulling together we can make a difference.”

To report someone who carries a knife, or to share concerns, please use the Tell us Something page on the Northumbria Police website or via 101. Alternatively, you can contact independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

You can find out more about the work of the Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit and the campaign to reduce knife crime here: www.KnivesImpactEveryone.co.uk