Over 1,200 students attend anti-knife crime events across Bedfordshire
Main article content
More than 1,200 students in schools, colleges and universities across Bedfordshire have taken part in special events to tackle knife crime as part of a major new campaign.
Just Drop It aims to emphasise the far-reaching impact of knife crime, with the goal of deterring young people from ever carrying or using a blade.
At the heart of the campaign, led by Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU), is the story of a mum whose teenage son was tragically stabbed to death in Luton in 2018.
Roseann Taylor shares her experience of losing 18-year-old Azaan ‘AJ’ Kaleem to knife crime in a short film commissioned by the VERU, which has been screened in schools, online and events across the county throughout the week.
Members of the VERU and Bedfordshire Police’s Education and Diversion team have been delivering inputs to students raising awareness of the devastating consequences associated with serious violence, and the support available to help people go knife free.
These sessions have been part of a wide range of activities to reach young people.
Earlier this week, an advertising van visited three colleges in the county, as well as Bedford railway station, public spaces in Luton and McDonald’s, Leagrave.
Young people were also among more than 150 guests who attended screenings of the main campaign film in Flitwick and Luton, while over 200 people joined a Facebook Live webinar showing the exclusive film last night (Thursday).
Richard Denton, Education and Diversion Coordinator at Bedfordshire Police, said: “The engagement of more than 1,200 school, college and university students reflects a significant step in our efforts to tackle serious youth violence in Bedfordshire.
“By sharing real stories and fostering dialogue, we hope to create a lasting impact on young minds, steering them away from the dangers of carrying knives.
“I have no doubt that all of the work this week will have had a major impact on young people’s lives – but there is so much more we can and must do to keep spreading this vitally important message.”
Kimberley Lamb, Director for the VERU, added: “This has been an incredible start to our campaign, and we’re thrilled to not only be getting this message out to as many young people as possible, but also to be receiving great feedback on the film and our campaign materials.
“The support has been equally phenomenal, with Luton Town Football Club pledging their support along with other prominent community members including the Mayor of Luton, Cllr Yaqub Hanif.
“Bedfordshire is an incredible county, rich in diversity, culture and life. It’s imperative that we all play our part in keeping our county safe, while showcasing our unity as we take a stand together against knife crime, and call for people to ‘Just Drop It’."