Survey reveals knife crime a key concern for young people in Essex

PUBLISHED: 21 September 2023

Knife crime is a major concern for young people in Essex, and the visit of the Knife Angel to Colchester in October will be a powerful opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and its devastating consequences.

The Youth Voices Listening Project conducted by Essex Council of Voluntary Youth Services ECVYS on behalf of the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit, found knife crime and knife harm stood alongside fights and drug use as major concerns for young people in Colchester.

The Knife Angel is a monument to violence and aggression in all its forms and is a valuable educational tool. Its visit to the city is accompanied by a partnership programme of workshops, discussions and community engagement.

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “My deepest sympathies are with any family who has lost a loved one to knife crime and as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner I have heard first hand from families the utter devastation and heartbreak knife crime brings.

“It is also my responsibility to tackle crime and ensure Essex is a safe county. One way I believe we can do this is by educating on the dangers and impact of crime. I hope the visit of the Knife Angel to Colchester can be a platform to educate about knife harm and the dangers of carrying a knife. They are difficult conversations to have, but our young people have told us they are concerned about knife crime and now we have to listen. We need to educate our young people and communities about the realities of knife crime and stop them from picking up a knife.”

Activities across the county to keep residents and visitors safe and reduce knife crime already include:
  • Reducing the circulation of knives across Essex through knife amnesties and knife bins.
  • Targeted police activity including knife arches and ‘stop and search’ activities
  • Education campaigns to inform young people and their parents on the dangers of knives including recent Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit campaign
  • Specific rehabilitation projects to support those who have been arrested in possession of a knife.
The iconic sculpture, which also serves as a memorial to victims who have lost their lives to knife violence, arrives in Colchester in October and will be on display at the landmark Jumbo Water Tower in the city centre from 1 to 31 October.

Councillor Natalie Sommers, Portfolio Holder for Communities at Colchester City Council, said: “We are bringing this iconic sculpture to our city with the intention of provoking a meaningful conversation about the devastating consequences of knife crime and the need for community-wide efforts to address this issue.

“Working with partners, we have a programme of workshops, events and discussions taking place throughout October as a way of educating people – young and old – on the devastating consequences of carrying and using a knife.”

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Hughes said: “Knife crime is falling in Essex but there is always more to do to reduce the number of tragedies involving knife injuries.

“We are focused on identifying offenders who use knives and will use our stop and search powers if we suspect someone is carrying one.

“However, we can’t tackle this issue on our own because it requires behaviour to change. So, we work with partner agencies to try to find solutions.

Between August 2021 and August 2022, there were 1,714 offences compared to 1,510 offences between August 2022 and August 2023 a reduction of 11.9%.

Violent crime across Essex is also down, with 1,228 fewer violence with injury offences in the year to the end of July, down 7.6%.

Page last reviewed: 21 September 2023


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