Training key workers to help prevent knife crime

Specialist knife-crime training is being carried out to help teachers, nurses and other front-line staff steer young people away from violence.

Kim McGuinness, Violence Reduction Liaison Officer Leonie Kameli and A&E doctors.
Kim McGuinness, Violence Reduction Liaison Officer Leonie Kameli and A&E doctors.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has rolled out the latest knife crime training designed to ensure young people at risk of gang-violence and criminality are spotted early and helped to turn their lives around.

The region’s only dedicated Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) – set up by the commissioner to prevent violent crime – has so far worked with more than 250 front-line key workers to better prepare them for supporting these vulnerable youngsters.

The Northumbria VRU sessions have so far been delivered in hospitals, schools, children’s homes, colleges and more, and see attendees taught the warning signs to look out for, the services available to support those young people in need and the devastating impact just carrying a knife can have.

Ms McGuinness said: “Taking this approach of preventing crime is so important, we absolutely cannot just arrest our way out of it.

“We need to better prepare staff to deal with vulnerable young people and also give those same young people the knowledge to make positive life decisions.”

In addition to the sessions for professionals, the commissioner’s VRU has also delivered knife crime awareness sessions to more than 3,400 young people this academic year.

She added: “Some of the staff that have attended the training see these young people at their most vulnerable moment – whether that be in an A&E department, or a custody suite – moments where these professionals can have a real chance to connect with the young person.

“No-one should ever be carrying or using a knife but unfortunately, there are incidents where we see this behaviour occur.

“Now those first responders will have the confidence and knowledge to help divert those involved in this lifestyle to the excellent services locally. We can break the cycle of violence.”

Those often first on scene or responding to a knife incident have been just some of the staff involved in the knife crime awareness sessions.