Somerset communities are urged to report any knife crime in the area – and young people are encouraged to avoid becoming involved or victims of knife crime.
A knife crime campaign was launched this week with a bid to raise awareness about the dangers of carrying a knife and report knife crime incidents across the county.
The Somerset Serious Violence Reduction Unit states Somerset is a safe place to live, but police data suggests the reporting of knife possession has doubled in Somerset between 2016-2018.
Knife crime offences represent less than 5% of total violent crimes, but they are serious offences that can causes significant harm to our communities.
The Violence Reduction Unit is therefore keen to reduce incidents of weapon possession, particularly amongst young people and look to raise awareness around the risks linked to knife crime.
Early this year, the Violence Reduction Unit commissioned a research report on ‘Social Media and experiences of cultural norms, violence and exploitation in Somerset’. Insights from this report finds the primary reason young people carry weapons is for protection and out of fear for their safety, not to intentionally incite violence. Some young people told us they have carried weapons because they perceived it to be cool and are sometimes swayed by music artists and online influencers.
Speaking on the launch of the campaign, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for community safety, Cllr Clare Paul said, “From the work we have done so far with young people, we realised that weapon carrying was more for protection and of fear or because they perceive it to be cool. They have expressed a need for understanding and compassion around why they had started carrying. The social media and experiences of cultural norms report puts further emphasis on this. Our message to young people is clear – you are neither safe, cool, or protected when you carry a weapon. Over the next few months, we will continue to engage with young people and listen to what they have to say which should enable us to reduce the devastating impact that knife crime and weapon possession could have on communities.”
The Violence Reduction Unit will also conduct regular surveys with professionals including volunteers who encounter knives or bladed weapons as part of their work. The objective of these survey will be to gather enough information about experiences and concerns across sectors to know what a multi-agency response could look like. An accurate picture of professional’s experiences could be used to inform future training and communications.
Please click here to access the Social Media and experiences of cultural norms, Violence and exploitation in Somerset research report. If you are unable to click on the link, please visit the Somerset Violence Reduction Unit webpage, downloads section to view the report.
If you have information about knife crime in your area and you’re nervous about going to the police, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They will never ask for your name or try to trace the number that you’re calling from.
If you are worried about someone you know carrying a knife, help and guidance is available: