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Hard-Hitting Knife Crime Adverts Launched In UK

Home Office (UK)

New hard-hitting knife crime adverts designed by young people for young people

National radio, website and mobile phone adverts warning young people about the harsh physical and emotional consequences of knife crime were launched today by Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker.

The hard-hitting advertising campaign in which the Government is investing £3million over the next three years was unveiled today at an event with the young people who developed the concept and who scripted and recorded the radio adverts.

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said:

"I am in no doubt about the importance of tackling knife crime and this is even starker following recent tragic events. Any incident involving a knife is one too many and we are determined to take tough action against those who carry them. We have already given police tough powers and doubled the maximum sentence for carrying a knife from two to four years.

"We know that many young people carry a knife because they are fearful and these adverts tell powerful stories about the dangers of going down that path. People have got to get the message that if they carry a knife, there's more chance of it being used against them.

"The majority of our young people are good, honest and law-abiding but it's crucial that we prevent young people from turning to knives as well as encouraging those that do, for whatever reason, to find a way out and put down their weapons."

Eighteen teenagers from across England and Wales took part in a Creative Summit in April this year to share ideas on how to make their peers think twice about carrying a knife. The participants developed the concept of a series of stabbings that could have been averted as the basis for the adverts.

Eighteen year old Khadijah Murchison from Bristol said:

"All the young people that went to the Creative Summit have been affected by knife crime, so to share our experiences with each other and come up with ideas and adverts that will help reduce knife crime was great. Hopefully, it will make a real difference."

This work built on discussions the Home Office held with 70 young people aged 10-16 between February and March, which aimed to gain an understanding of young people's experience of knife crime and possession; the issues that motivate them to carry knives and their perceptions of risk and consequence.

The Association of Chief Police Officers lead on knives and Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Alf Hitchcock said:

"Knife crime causes massive grief and pain to both victim's families and their communities.

"This campaign will encourage young people to realise that they should speak to one another, their parents and others around them for support. It should be remembered that you are more likely to be a victim of knife crime by carrying a knife, rather than a knife protecting you.

"Anyone caught carrying a knife is committing a serious offence and the police are being welcomed by local communities to stamp out this menace."

Angela Lawrence from Mothers Against Violence said:

"The senseless killing of our children by knives and guns has to stop. Every mother, father and carer has the responsibility to ensure this happens."

The campaign will run simultaneously alongside a series of adverts aimed at mothers, encouraging them to talk about knives with their children and to offer them support.


1. The radio adverts go live in the week beginning Monday 2 June on Kiss FM, Choice FM, Galaxy and Trent FM. They can also be viewed at from 29th May. Viral adverts will be distributed via social networking websites such as Bebo and mobile phones. A print advert will be distributed as a postcard directly to young people by street marketing teams.

2. The Home Office held discussions with 70 young people aged 10-16 from across England and Wales from February to March 2008. The discussions looked into gaining an understanding of young people's experience of knife crime/possession; the issues that motivate them to carry knives and their perceptions of risk and consequence to see how communications could contribute to reducing knife possession. Two critical themes that emerged were:

* Young people carry knives out of fear - they need help in making positive choices which distance them from violence, aggression and situations where knife carrying is required and accepted; and

* A dislike and lack of respect for authority figures who may have acted violently towards them or failed to keep them protected (matriarchal figures being the exception)

The influence of peers and matriarchal figures was felt to be a key communications tool in countering the effects of fear and peer pressure; engaging and empowering; and discouraging knife possession.

3. A Creative Summit involving 18 young people was held from 18 to 20 April, to develop ideas for the adverts. Footage of the Summit is available from Sam Brown at Uproa

Client ref 108-2008
COI ref 161322P


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