Drop the Knife campaign

A campaign to help tackle knife crime across the region has been started by a local Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator.

Knowle resident Les Bowen (80) who was brought up in Filwood wanted to do something under the project Our Community Cares – involving the Neighbourhood Watch Association and Avon and Somerset Police.

He came up with the idea when talking with his friend Keith Smith from Whitchurch – as they were concerned about rising knife crime. Together they devised a poster “Drop the Knife and Save a Life” which Keith illustrated – and took it before Avon and Somerset Police.

Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator Les Bowen with his Drop the Knife campaign poster.

Now with the full backing of the police, the poster will go in venues across the force area, including libraries, social clubs and community centres.

Les explains: “I’ve always cared about the community. Every time you get up in the morning you read that someone else somewhere has been stabbed.

“This is not a political – it’s a community thing and we want to get the message out…If it can save a life it’s worth it or if it just has someone think ‘I won’t take my knife with me’…”

Les who was a resident representative for the Neighbourhood Watch in the Avon and Somerset area with the South West Regional Forum insists it is not just about crime but about looking out for your neighbours.

Avon and Somerset Police has run operations to place knife surrender bins in police stations – including Broadbury Road.

Chief Inspector Zoe Chegwyn, force lead for knife crime said: “Several times a year we carry out targeted operations, alongside other police forces … to help reduce the impact that knives have on individuals and communities.

“Our ultimate aim is to try and reduce the number of people carrying knives. We work in schools to educate young people about the dangers of carrying knives, encourage young people to report through Fearless (the youth wing of Crimestoppers) if they suspect someone they know may be carrying a knife –  as well as working with retailers, to ensure they understand that it is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18.

“During our previous operations we have placed knife surrender bins in the front offices of many or our police buildings…which have been very well used.

“We have had a wide range of knives, including ‘zombie’ knives and machetes handed in, which is great news for local communities. Every knife surrendered is one less knife out on the street where they can, and do, cause serious harm.

“It’s fantastic to see communities taking ownership of issues like this, so we fully support the Drop the Knife campaign.”