Local young people work with police to tackle knife crime

Local young people have been working with Avon and Somerset Police to help tackle the issue of knife crime – and have created films as part of the campaign.

Over the past year pupils from Merchants Academy in Withywood – which takes a number of students from Knowle West – have been helping police better understand why young people might carry knives, and what support they want to help solve the problem.

The other school involved is is Bristol Futures Academy in Barton Hill.

Police have supported them to turn those ideas into short, animated films, working alongside student animators at UWE Bristol.

Legendary animation studio, Aardman Productions, has also given guidance to the young people during the project.

The films form part of a wider campaign in south and east Bristol as well as Weston-super-Mare and Taunton – which sees the students’ work displayed on buses, billboards and bus shelters.

The key messages from each film are also being discussed in local media – including on Bristol radio stations.

The Merchants Academy film, created by a student who is now in year 8, is called Life b4 Likes. It explores the dangerous world of live streaming fights on social media – and how this can have devastating consequences.

Screen shot from Life b4 Likes by Merchants Academy.

The Bristol Futures film, created by a student who is now in year 11, is called The Cycle. It explores the tit for tat, retaliatory nature of knife crime and calls for agencies in Bristol to work together to break the cycle of violence.

Sergeant Richard O’Brien, who works with the Violence Reduction Unit in Bristol said: “After months of hard work by the students, and the frustration of having to put the project on hold due to the pandemic, it’s brilliant to see this campaign come together. 

“The key element of this project is that it has young people’s opinions at the heart of it. We know that police telling young people not to carry knives is not the solution, and police enforcement alone will never be enough to resolve this complex issue.

“By listening to young people’s voices and engaging them in a creative process to produce campaigns which mean something to them and their peers, we hope that they can feel empowered and less fearful.”

The films and messages are also being shared widely on social media, with a prize on offer for the school whose film gets the most views on YouTube – available here for Merchants Academy and here for Bristol Futures Academy.

You can follow the campaigns on social media using hashtags #Lifeb4Likes and #BreakTheCycle

There will also be broadcasts about the project over the next month (until 17 November) on Heart FMUjima Radio and BCFM

To see all the campaign films or for more information visit www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/knifecrime