STAFFORDSHIRE Police are encouraging parents and carers to continue having conversations about knife crime with children and young people.
The call comes during week of activity highlighting the force's ongoing 'Ditch the Blade' campaign.
The county has seen an overall reduction in knife crime thanks in large part to the combined efforts of parents, families, schools, youth workers and Police in educating young people on the dangers of carrying knives.
Knife crime has not gone away, however, even despite the restrictions of Covid and throughout the week, police and partners will highlight the impact of knife crime and share insight into the work being done to tackle the issue.
This activity supports the national 'Operation Sceptre'.
Podcasts have been recorded which will share lived experience and provide insight on what to do if parents or carers are concerned about their child being involved in knife crime.
Officers will also use intelligence-led deployments, weapons sweeps and high-visibility patrols to target and disrupt offenders who carry and use knives.
Chief Inspector Mark Smith, force lead for knife crime, said: “The underlying reasons why young people feel they need to carry a knife are really complex and mean that this is a problem that cannot be tackled by police alone.
“Sadly we see a lot of young people carrying, or becoming involved in incidents where knives are used. Last year 124 young people were victims of knife crimes and 110 young people committed a crime whilst carrying a knife.
“The fact is, carrying a weapon increases the chances of becoming a victim of knife crime – we need young people to know that the majority don’t carry.
"But we know media reports and things they see on social media increase young people’s fear, which leads them to think they are better protected by carrying.”
The partnership fight against knife crime in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is driven through the Serious Violence Board, which launched a multi-agency agreement in July this year.
This partnership approach aims to stop serious violence before it begins, by approaching serious violence as a public health problem to improve the health and quality of life of all people in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and address cross-border issues.
Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime, Matthew Ellis said: “Tackling violence that happens in our society must be a priority. For some people, carrying a knife or other weapon is sadly the norm and often results in tragedy for themselves and others.
“The best way of preventing crime and having a positive impact on communities is to stop problems arising in the first place. It is essential we intervene early to help those who are experiencing problems, supporting them to address the issues they face".
Nigel Sargeant, Senior Manager at Catch 22, said: “Catch22 works with children and young people at risk of exploitation, linked to drug lines or involved in knife crime.
“Sadly, some young people feel the only way to be safe is to carry a knife. We are here to listen, educate and support them into diversionary activities. We aim to build resilience and aspiration, empowering young people to make positive change. A knife won’t keep you safe; good people, good places and a purpose in life will.”
Anyone who has any concerns around a young person becoming involved in knife crime or carrying a knife, can report their concerns via the Staffordshire Police website, through direct message on Facebook and Twitter or by calling 101. In an emergency always call 999.