Activity targeting knife crime by Leicestershire Police and its partners as part of a week-long national campaign is well underway
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Operation Sceptre aims to reduce knife crime by targeting those carrying weapons and disrupt the supply of knives available to use.
Knife crime is a priority for Leicestershire Police and working with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Violence Reduction Network (VRN) the force is determined to not only enforce and disrupt those responsible for knife crime but also collaborate with communities and partners prevent violence, including knife crime, happening in the first place.
The VRN was established in 2019 by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Lord Willy Bach to co-ordinate and strengthen the local response to reducing and preventing public place violence affecting young people which includes the use of weapons. It seeks to work with and for young people and communities recognising the unique and critical role they play in addressing the issue.
Other partners include schools and colleges, criminal justice agencies including youth justice, the probation service and prisons as well as local authorities, community safety partnerships and health.
These combined and collaborative efforts provide a range of education, support and interventions to reduce and prevent knife crime and other violence affecting young people.
An example of this proactive prevention work is a project taking place within schools. Funded by the OPCC, the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) is a peer-led leadership and bystander programme which is being implemented in secondary schools.
Teachers, supported by partners including the police, train young people as mentors and equip them with the confidence, knowledge and skills to identify and speak out against bullying, abusive behaviour and violence. It aims to tackle the beliefs, attitudes and culture which can give the message that violence is acceptable.
A school which has engaged with the MVP is Keyham Lodge in Leicester. Kevin Curtis, Behaviour Inclusion Manager from the school said: “Keyham Lodge School is a social, emotional and mental health school within the city of Leicester. Our current cohort is made up students who are at most risk of serious criminal behaviours that result in knife crime, violent crimes or being involved within county lines.
“Over the last three years I have been running various projects within the school which have focussed on raising awareness and changing student’s attitudes around violent crime. The introduction of MVP will allow us to go to the next steps in the work we do with our young people.
“By introducing MVP at Keyham Lodge School we hope to unearth great leadership potential and to promote the bystander approach which will support the well-established school culture. In addition to this we want the training to support in creating an environment where all students feel confident to openly discuss the key challenges they face in life and to understand its ok to disagree.”
Lord Bach said: “The OPCC has put harm prevention at the heart of its Police and Crime Plan work and one the VRN will continue. In little over 12 months, it is already showing how it can help to change attitudes and mindsets and there is no doubt in my mind that it will have a lasting impact - one that save lives in the future.
“The key to its success following the OPCC model, is that it brings a network of partners together, working to tackle the issues that drive young people to carry, and worse still use, a knife. By working closely with communities and young people, we know that violence can be prevented by combining knowledge, experience and multi-disciplinary skills to tackle the root causes. By intervening at the earliest opportunity, we give young people a choice about their future and an opportunity to change their path.”
Leicestershire Police’s Chief Constable, Simon Cole added:
“Tackling knife crime is a problem that the police alone can’t solve. This is a driving force behind why we work together with a variety of different agencies which have their own expertise and resources as well as the shared goal of reducing knife crime offences.
“We then, as a collective, can support people to make positive changes for their future.”
There are a variety of options available to reach young people and let them know it’s never too late to make a positive change.
Further information and resources can be found on the Lives not Knives section of the force website.
To find out more information about the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) programme visit: https://www.violencereductionnetwork.co.uk/mentors-in-violence-prevention