Stabbings remain a stark reminder of knife crime danger, hard-hitting school assembly told
PUBLISHED: 17:19 18 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:09 19 September 2019
Deaths by stabbings should serve as a constant reminder of the dangers of carrying a blade, young people have been warned in hard-hitting school assemblies.
Pcso Theresa England is giving talks at Ipswich's Ormiston Endeavour Academy every day this week as part of Operation Sceptre, a national police week of action against the scourge of knife crime.
Suffolk police say they "see an increasing proportion of young people under the age of 20 being involved in knife crime", with statistics earlier this year showing children and teenagers behind a quarter of rising knife crime across Suffolk in the past year.
But the force also said it is "important not to exaggerate the scale of knife crime amongst young people, as generating a disproportionate about of fear can actually contribute to more young people carrying knives".
During her talk, Pcso England urged pupils to report anyone they suspect of carrying a weapon.
However she also warned them to be aware of the consequences of carrying blades themselves - not just because they could be sent to prison, but the dangers of being stabbed themselves.
Pcso England also uses real life examples from across the country to make sure the message hits home.
Jamie Daniels, headteacher at Ormiston Endeavour Academy, welcomed the assemblies - although he said teachers at the Defoe Road school had "not dealt with anyone carrying a knife for protection". He added: "What the Pcso does is try to bring it to life with real situations.
"It is quite a powerful and hard-hitting message. It makes it really relatable. They've seen people who've been killed in their local area. If we were talking about gun crime, the kids would ask: 'How is this relevant to my life?'
"In Ipswich, they can see knife crime is relevant."
Mr Daniels said there had been occasions where Ormiston Endeavour students had come forward to say they believed someone else was carrying a knife - but added: "We immediately conducted a search and found nothing of concern.
"The clear message we're trying to get through to young people is that you've got a chance to make good choices.
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"We want to make them fully aware of the consequences, so they know what those will be.
"Perhaps even more important is what to do if one of their friends is carrying a knife. In school, teachers are always here to support but equally there is the Crimestoppers number.
"Young people should not be afraid to come forward. What the police are encouraging people to think is that talking about things is better than hiding them away and keeping them secret."
As part of Operation Sceptre, knife crime bins have been placed across the county to encourage people to dump potentially harmful weapons with no questions asked.
There are three in Ipswich as well as bins in Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Mildenhall, Sudbury, Stowmarket and Haverhill.
Superintendent Kerry Cutler, from Suffolk Constabulary, said: "We need to give more support to our young people, more practical help and more skills to be streetwise without being at risk.
"We need to help them to have more hope and less fear. There is a duty on all of us to do more effectively and to do more now.
"Safe and secure communities in the future start with safety and security for all our young people.
"I continue to ask parents, carers and those people working with young people to talk to their children about the dangers of carrying knives and the terrible impact that knife crime can have on them, their friends, their family and their community."
She urged parents to talk to young people about the dangers of carrying a knife, saying: "Simply listening and giving time to a young person can encourage them to think about their decisions and behaviour."
Tim Passmore, police and crime commissioner for Suffolk, said:
"Awareness of the dangers of carrying a blade of any sort is crucially important and I would implore all parents to talk to their children about the dangers of knife crime. Knife crime is a growing problem here in Suffolk and it's got to stop. Carrying a knife just doesn't make you safe and sadly, as we all know, it can lead to dreadful consequences."
Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
■ People concerned about knife crime can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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