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Police chiefs urge schools and parents to unite against knife crime

West Midlands Police’s top officer and the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner have come together to urge schools to prioritise speaking to pupils about the devastating impact of carrying knives. 

Chief Constable Dave Thompson has personally written to every local authority in the West Midlands pressing them to form a united front against knife crime in the wake of a series of shocking stabbings.

In the letter, he’s stressed the vital role teachers, parents and guardians can play in driving home the chilling consequences of knife possession.

Chief Constable Dave Thompson speaking to students at Holte School in Lozells

And he wants them to have “heart-to-heart conversations" with children in an attempt to steer them away from knives… and help prevent more lives from being ruined.

Today (21 June) he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson at Holte School in Lozells, Birmingham, to drive home the message.

He said: “I want school staff and parents to have heart-to-heart conversations to really ram home the message that carrying weapons is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated.

"We all feel the heartbreak of the loss of anyone so young − and a death at the hands of a knife is all the more traumatic and senseless."

And referring to the recent tragic killings of 15-year-old Keelan Wilson in Wolverhampton and Ozell Pemberton, 16, in Sutton Coldfield, he added: “We need to come together and make sure these awful tragedies are not in vain and to stop them from happening again. 

"We have to be open and talk about the evil of knives and the trail of devastation they can cause. This can’t be done by anyone alone; we need schools, parents, police and all our other partners to play a part. 

"By having conversations at an early age, both at school and home, about the awful consequences of carrying a knife this can impact on ways of thinking. It can stop someone from not only ruining their own but other lives. 

"We will enforce the law to its fullest when anyone chooses to carry a knife ; but we are determined to stop it even reaching that point.

"The recent knife murders over the last few weeks have left us all sickened. As adults we owe it to our young people to work with them to make them safe this summer."

West Midlands Police are already working alongside partners to combat youth violence and the force’s Precious Lives project − which deglamourizes gang culture and talks frankly about the consequences of knife crime − has now reached in excess of 100,000 pupils.

And a new hard-hitting, thought-provoking video has been released online and been made available to schools, that recalls the horrors of those who deal with the aftermath of knife crime first hand.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson speaking to students

West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said: “Knife crime ruins lives and devastates families. A decision by a young person to carry a weapon can result in horrific circumstances. It is vital we warn children at a young age of the dangers they face from carrying knives or guns and stress they have a choice to make.

“Between now and the summer holidays I want every young person in the region to be educated on the dangers of carrying a knife . This will be part of an ongoing programme to tackle violent crime head-on.

“But we must do much more than that. I am also investing in gang mediators to defuse tensions, creating more programmes to divert young people away from violence and placing youth workers in A&E departments to reach people who might be caught up in crime." 

Holte School has been at the forefront of educating pupils on staying safe and steering them away from knife crime, including having regular classroom discussions and using a knife wand to randomly check youngsters of all ages.

Deputy Head Teacher Andy Oliver, added: "We take a very proactive approach to the issue of knife crime: through a range of external visitors to promote awareness via our Citizenship and PSHE programme, to our excellent working relationship with West Midlands Police and our comprehensive programme of random searching, we take our responsibilities very seriously. 

“Just in the past week we have had PC Rob Pedley in school talking to pupils about the perils of knife crime alongside Alison Cope, who lost her son to knife crime, has visited us as part of our Diana Award scheme. Our thriving Police Cadet group is testament to the fact our pupils want to live in a community free of crime and we are doing all we can to ensure that becomes reality."

Pupils at Holte School demonstrate being scanned with a knife wand

More information about knife crime can be found on the West Midlands Police website. Anyone who suspects someone of carrying a knife is urged to report their concerns via the 101 number.