A Mum who tragically lost her son to knife crime is campaigning for resources and education on the topic.
Zoe Cooke is speaking about how she’s using her own experience to teach people about the consequences and work with them to prevent them getting involved themselves as part of the Operation Sceptre week of action.
Her son, Byron Griffin, had left with a friend for Ilkeston on 4 July 2021. It was a hot summer afternoon, the European football championships were in full swing and Zoe had spoken to him as he was leaving.
Little did she know that, just a few hours later, she would be receiving the worst phone call any parent could imagine – Byron had been attacked with a knife and was in a critical condition.
“I can just remember them bringing him out the ambulance, his eyes were rolled to the back of his head, and he was totally cut open from where they’d given him open heart surgery on the scene”, she said.
“My world just collapsed when they confirmed he’d passed.”
Since Byron’s death, Zoe has taken an active role in education on knife crime. She now works with young people and alternative provision, and has delivered a number of talks to as well as campaigning for resources, such as bleed kits across the county.
She said: “I’m extremely passionate about education. It’s extremely important in preventing knife crime and helping people understand the realities and the consequences of knife crime.
“There’s the example of carrying a knife for protection, for example. You can carry a knife because you’re scared, but the chances are you’re more likely to get hurt by your own knife than you are if you don’t carry.
“As well, money is also a reason I know some people can become involved in criminality, and because of this I always talk about the long term impact. Yes, the person making an honest living can take longer to accrue things like nice cars and a big house, which may be an aspiration, but they will avoid getting in trouble with the law and losing that and having to rebuild their life again from scratch like the person involved in criminality would have to.
“If a life can be bettered or saved by something I’ve done or something I’ve put in place, then I feel Byron’s death won’t have been in vain.
“It’s like he’s saved someone, his legacy has saved someone.”
Derbyshire officers have also been delivering the force’s innovative knife crime board game, Shattered, to schools across Derbyshire.
The board game begins with the scenario of a teenager being wounded by a knife. The students then have to ‘roll the dice’ to decide what happens next, and during each stage of the game they discuss what might happen and the impact on the people involved.
Youth Engagement Officer Julie Berry said: “The game gives us a great platform to discuss the difficult topic of knife crime. By being interactive, the students are all very much encouraged to get fully immersed in the game and in the situation.
“During the sessions, they can discuss their thoughts on what is unfolding in front of them, ask questions, and really delve in to the consequences and the impact knife crime can have.
“It has been received really well so far and we hope by delivering this to schools as part of their education in knife crime, we’ll have started a conversation, created greater understanding and debunked myths along the way.”
If you know or think someone is carrying a knife then please speak to someone and let us know using any of the following methods:
Facebook – send us a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
X – direct message our contact centre on @DerPolContact