Campaign: Public Sector - Anti-knife crime drive reaches kids

Campaign: It Doesn't Have to Happen
Client: Home Office
PR team: Forster
Timescale: £250,000
Budget: October 2008-March 2009

It Doesn't Have to Happen (IDHTH) is a national Home Office campaign designed by young people for young people to reduce knife crime. Forster took the campaign out to ten priority communities to offer tailored support and advice for those already working to tackle youth knife crime.


- To unite local campaigners, young people and stakeholders under the IDHTH banner

- To run tailored activities across England and Wales in partnership with police, local partnerships and organisations, to take the anti-knife crime message out to young people

- To provide comms support to local campaigners

- To develop comms tools to help local action against knife crime.


Forster put together a series of tailored interventions to directly engage vulnerable young people with the Home Office's anti-knife crime message.

These activities ranged from a street theatre production in Preston city centre coupled with peer-to-peer street marketing, to a school programme in Reading where messages were incorporated into mainstream lessons. In Luton, the initiative took the form of a football tournament and coaching programme with the local football club.

Forster also engaged with harder-to-reach young people by communicating messages through music and graffiti workshops for young offenders in Essex.

Other activities included youth conferences, training packages for safer schools officers, workshops with local youth centres and sports activities in London Olympic boroughs alongside celebrities such as Denise Lewis.

A national stakeholder website was created as a one-stop shop for information and advice, and a campaign website was hosted on youth social networking site Bebo. Two comms toolkits and monthly e-newsletters were also created.


The campaign generated more than 108 pieces of media coverage including national, regional and trade media. Stories appeared on BBC East Midlands, ITV Central, BBC Radio 5 Live, Choice FM and in publications such as the Reading Post.

The anti-knife crime activities were evaluated by both the young people taking part in the activities, and by stakeholder partnerships and local police forces. Comments from young people highlighted that the activities had made clear how dangerous knives can be and that they wanted to tell their friends or more people about the campaign.


More than 4,000 young people were directly reached through tailored anti-knife crime interventions. Campaign updates and information was distributed to more than 1,500 stakeholders and the media coverage generated helped to reassure the public that the Government is taking action against knife crime.

SECOND OPINION - Nancy Collantine, Co-founder and MD, Fido PR

This is a well-executed campaign that has successfully delivered the message that the Government is doing something to tackle knife crime. Forster had a corker of a budget and the chance to work on a really newsworthy and important issue.

It is great to hear the campaign was created by youth for youth, but I do not really see evidence that this is the case. The Bebo element works well, but I would suggest that more social networking sites could have been used to even greater effect in targeting more young people.

The ten well-organised highlight initiatives positively influenced 4,000 young people, thanks to partnerships with local organisations. However, the project is designed to encourage communities and groups to deliver their own campaigns and events.

It would be useful to see how many of these were delivered by local people at a local level to demonstrate that the message got through to a much wider audience.

The campaign informs the public that the Government is tackling knife crime, through all the media coverage. But there is no evidence that the campaign has affected change among many ten- to 16-year-olds.

It is not wholly the fault of the PR team; the underlying objective I fear is: 'Let's appear to be doing something so we can generate media coverage and allay public fear.' This is a shame as it is a lot of public money that could have been put to better use.

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