We've been supporting Operation Sceptre by continuing our work with Project Zao to reduce knife crime in Derbyshire.
Following a successful week of action in February 2018, all 44 police forces including the British Transport Police (BTP), across England and Wales will be taking part in the latest national phase of Operation Sceptre, as part of the ongoing fight against knife crime.
Here in Derbyshire, we have worked since 2015 with our partners in education and councils across the county on Project Zao, to warn of the dangers of carrying a knife and to target those that do so.
In September 2018, we launched a joint project with Derby City Council. In 6 days, over 2000 school children in the city took part in a performance and workshop focussing on the complex, interrelated issues of knife crime, gang violence and self-identity.
The activity called ‘Switch up’ was led by Saltmine Theatre Company and used a drama production following two mates ‘Dan and Jay’, as they face the dilemmas of being involved in gang culture and knife crime. The performance was then used to lead workshops to highlight the dangers of their choices.
Inspector Rich Keene, who is leading on Project Zao, said: “Our officers have been visiting schools across the county warning of the dangers of carrying a knife, as part of Project Zao, for the past 2 years.
“We were particularly excited about launching ‘Switch up’ during Operation Sceptre week as we believe it portrays the real dilemmas facing young people and gives opportunity for them to discuss their choices in a controlled environment.
“Carrying a knife holds some potentially life-changing consequences and we are determined that young people know what these are and so choose not to do so.
“Derbyshire Constabulary is a lead force in relation to its response to knife crime and its causes. We are seen as a beacon for other forces in terms of education and engagement and are acknowledged as displaying the best practice in our working with partners, schools, young people and wider communities”.
If you are concerned or have any information about knife crime in your community please contact us using one of the following non-emergency contact methods.
You can also anonymously contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111 or by visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
Rachel Webb's support
A 2016 knife amnesty was supported by Rachel Webb, whose son, Tom Webb (22), was fatally stabbed in Derby city centre in January. A 16-year-old boy was charged and sentenced with his murder.
At the time, Rachel said: “I think the knife amnesty is an incredible idea. It’s raising awareness of a horrendous situation we have in society at the moment where people feel it’s alright to carry knives with them.
“My message to young people who are choosing to carry a knife is to stop and think about it and decide what sort of person you want to be in life.
“Carrying a knife for whatever reason is one of those choices in life that you have to make and it’s never a good idea.”
Rachel urged parents to talk to their children if they believe they are carrying a knife. She added: “With children up to the age of 16, who knows where they are and who they are talking to on the internet? It’s really hard to keep connections with teenagers but it is important and if, as a parent, you are worried, I would really advocate speaking to your teenager.
“Teenagers are, by nature, secretive. It’s forging relationships with your kids and pushing through and being quite open and honest with your worries and your fears. If you believe your child is carrying a knife then there is a need for you to get involved, be proactive and sit down and speak to them.”
Rachel visited the British Ironworks Centre with Tom’s girlfriend, Roxy Gardiner, to inscribe knives in his memory which will then form part of the angel sculpture.
She said: “A few weeks ago, Roxy and I were invited to go to the British Ironworks Centre and the sculpture they are doing is a 20ft angel made completely of knives handed in during amnesties.
“It’s incredible and it was profound and breath-taking. Suddenly, I didn’t feel alone. We were allowed to engrave my son’s name on one of the knives and it will be put in the left wing of the angel and it is stunningly beautiful and stunningly grotesque in equal measure.”
Derby County's support
Our knife amnesty was also supported by Derby County, with former midfielder Will Hughes talking to us about his thoughts on carrying knives, and why he supports our campaign: