Exclusive: Police force to tell teenagers 'It's life or knife' in behaviour-change campaign

The choice between living and dying is the central theme of a knife-crime campaign aimed at teenagers, to be launched by West Midlands Police next week.

It's life or knife, says West Midlands Police in its behaviour-change campaign
It's life or knife, says West Midlands Police in its behaviour-change campaign

More than one in 10 young people regularly carry knives, according to Home Office research, and the new #lifeorknife campaign aims to prevent young people carrying knives and killing people.

Its main message revolves around making a choice – with those opting to carry a knife making the choice to potentially take a life or face a life sentence.

The campaign will be aimed at 14- to 16-year-olds, along with their parents.

Real-life victims

The activity is being backed by the parents of James Brindley, who was 26 when he was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack just a few hundred metres from his home in Aldridge, Walsall, in June 2017.

In a short campaign film, they talk about their son’s death and the impact it has had on them.

The couple also present another film being used in the campaign, which offers advice to parents as to how they can raise the issue of carrying knives with their child.

Suggestions include picking a time and place to talk, patience in waiting for them to open up, and reassuring them they can be honest.

Facebook and Twitter will be among the social-media channels used in the campaign. West Midlands Police has created a Facebook Canvas ad as well as a YouTube video, in a practical toolkit to help parents have a conversation with their child.

Presentation materials have been developed for use in secondary schools, using real stories featuring victims and offenders.

The force's comms team will also partner popular bloggers to promote the campaign and is testing ambient media, including branded boxes at chicken shops and other food outlets.

Police perspective

Hilary Hopker, campaigns manager at West Midlands Police, told PRWeek: "#Lifeorknife aims to educate young people and their carers about the dangers of carrying a knife. The campaign is presented in a very honest way using 'trusted voices' for its audience, including real victims and real offenders."

She added: "By generating conversations around knife crime we hope to create a culture where young people themselves don’t condone knife-carrying and feel empowered to walk away when faced with confrontation."

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