Knife crime prevention receives a boost from the Safer Communities Fund
28 March 2019
An initiative to help prevent knife crime has received a boost with part funding from Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire's Safer Communities Fund.
The initiative is the brainchild of PC Mark Rothery of Leeds North East Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) who applied to the Safer Communities Fund last year.
PC Rothery was successful in his application for £3500 of funding towards his project to target nearly 2000 school children across Leeds in an intensive week of knife crime prevention activity.
The week focuses on performances of the award winning play "Terriers", written by Maurice Bessman, which highlights issues and consequences of gang culture and peer pressure.
PC Rothery also arranged for educational facilitator Sarah Lloyd, whose son was tragically murdered in a knife attack, to present a package around knife crime prevention messages.
Over 300 students a day from across Leeds schools, as well as members of the local community and key partners, have been attending the event which has run over this week.
Mark Burns-Williamson, who attended the event which took place on Wednesday evening (27/03), said: "Early intervention and prevention really are pivotal in tackling knife crime and violent crime on the whole.
"Stopping these incidents from ever taking place in the simplest terms means saving lives. It also means all the consequences that follow for victims, families and offenders never take place and that has to be the target for our work.
"I was pleased to be able to provide some funding for this ambitious project and my thanks goes to PC Rothery, Sarah Lloyd, and all the participating schools and partners involved who have really gone above and beyond to protect our communities.
"The project was highly impactive and I am sure it will have left a lasting impression on everyone in attendance."
Chief Superintendent Steve Cotter, Leeds District Commander, said: "This has been a really impressive project that brilliantly illustrates how the police, our partner agencies and our communities can work together to address the issues around gang violence and knife crime.
"These are issues that can only be tackled by joint work with everyone who has a stake in the futures of our young people.
"Warning them about these risks and dangers through work with schools and other community organisations is a vital element of our ongoing partnership work to protect young people from harm and keep communities safe.
"The week's activities have reached a huge audience and everyone who has played a part in making this event such a success is to be congratulated for the positive difference we hope it will have made."
Assistant Head Teacher at Bankside Primary School in Leeds, Kauser Jan, said: "The overwhelming feedback we have had so far has been outstanding with schools and pupils telling us how it has opened their eyes to the dangers.
"The watching of the play signals a start of a collective journey to rid our society of weapons. Had it not been for the funding, we would not have been able to achieve the work so far and in the long run we are saving lives and the public purse too. The impact of the work that we have carried out within the seven schools involved in watching the play will be immeasurable. If we raised the social consciousness of one child or community member, we have achieved our aim and then some.
"We have to work together no matter of age, religion, sexuality, colour and so forth. Gang crime isn't an issue for someone else to solve, it's one that each and everyone of us has to own and be proactive rather than reactive about."
The next round of the Safer Communities Fund opens for applications on 15th April, for more information click here.
Mark and Kauser Jan at the event.