Knife crime shock campaign launched

LONDON (Reuters) - The government launched a three million pound national advertising campaign on Thursday to warn young people about the effects of knife crime amid growing fears that the issue is getting out of control.

A Metropolitan Police representative arranges knives, seized in recent operations, for photographers after a news conference about knife crime, at New Scotland Yard, London, May 29, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The move came as London’s Metropolitan Police unveiled a haul of weapons recovered during the first two weeks of a blitz on knife crime, and said parents were key to tackling the problem.

Actor Robert Knox became the latest teenage stabbing victim on Saturday when he was knifed to death outside a pub in Sidcup, Kent.

The hard-hitting adverts, which will be run on radio, websites and mobile phones, will warn youngsters about the harsh physical and emotional consequences of knife crime.

The campaign, to be run over the next three years, was developed and written by young people who have themselves been affected by knife crime.

A series of ads aimed at mothers, encouraging them to talk about the issue with their children, will run simultaneously.

“I am in no doubt about the importance of tackling knife crime and this is even starker following recent tragic events,” said Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

“We know that many young people carry a knife because they are fearful and these adverts tell powerful stories about the dangers of going down that path.

“People have got to get the message that if they carry a knife, there’s more chance of it being used against them.”

Coaker was speaking as the Met revealed that almost 200 weapons had been seized and more than 200 people arrested during a two-week blitz on knife crime.

Speaking at New Scotland Yard, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair urged parents to speak to their children about the dangers of carrying knives.

“To parents, it is tough love time,” he told reporters. “In addition to conversations about drink, drugs and relationships, there are now conversations about knives.

“The most common knife involved in these deaths is a knife from the kitchen and we must have conversations about knife crime with teenagers.”

The moves are the latest to try to address the growing political and criminal issue of knife crime.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has already promised extra money to tackle gangs and youth violence, with an emphasis on extra police use of stop and search powers.

That echoes a crackdown launched earlier this month by police in London. Teenagers in areas blighted by weapons, or groups suspected of carrying knives, face being searched without officers needing to have reasonable suspicion.

Senior officers said it would be “in your face” policing.

Editing by Stephen Addison