On Friday 8 July, a launch event was held at the Grand Entrance to Birkenhead Park, signalling a month-long county-wide knife amnesty and ongoing education campaign which aims to reduce the number of weapons on the streets of Merseyside.
The Wirral Rock Choir opened the proceedings with a moving performance of the Robbie Williams song ‘Angels’ under the Knife Angel statue.
There were speeches by Clive Knowles, whose firm built the Knife Angel, Merseyside Police Deputy Cheif Constable Ian Critchley, Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell, Mark Cambourne from Wirral Council, and an emotional speech by Mandy Jamieson on the effect that knife crime had on her family after her son Daniel was killed in a knife attack.
A knife amnesty bin has been installed at the Knife Angel, as well as others at Tranmere Rovers, Wirral Change, Beechwood Recreation Centre, and Merseyside Police General Enquiry Offices. At the event, it was announced that in the previous week, 40 knives had already been deposited in the amnesty bins.
The amnesty is for anyone who wants to dispose of bladed weapons and other offensive weapons, such as knuckle dusters or friction lock batons to do so safely and without fear of prosecution. Many weapons are held in innocence or ignorance of their illegality.
The amnesty gives members of the public the chance to dispose of a knife anonymously with no questions asked, by simply depositing it into the amnesty bin.
birkenhead.news spoke to so Clive Knowles from the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry. He told us, “When I arrived today and saw the Knife Angel in situ in Birkenhead for the first time, it looked spectacular in this location.”
Praising the launch event, Clive said, “I’ve got to say that the actual ceremony today, launching of 30 days of anti-violence education has been absolutely breathtaking. You’ve got some fabulous people step forward and some huge community champions willing to do all of this work for nothing – volunteering their time – and it’s really humbling to hear.”
On what he hopes to achieve by displaying the Knife Angel in Wirral, he said, “If there’s one thing that we aim to achieve whilst it’s here in Birkenhead is that we commit each host town or city to deputise young people, turning them into anti-violence champions for their town and for their nation.
Clive hopes that 10,000 young people will become anti-violence ambassadors throughout the region to spread the word to “their families, their relations, their school friends, their communities in renouncing and rejecting violent behaviour.”
PCC Emily Spurrell told birkenhead.news, “I think today’s event has given us an opportunity to reflect on some of the challenges that we still face around talking about knife crime.
“We’ve got lots of initiatives happening across Wirral, engaging with young people to talk about the dangers of carrying a knife.”
Emily thanked the local community groups that the police work in partnership with in tackling knife crime, “We have to have that grassroots engagement. We have to work with our local community organisations. They know our community, they know the young people, they know the local issues.”
Merseyside Police Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley told us, “Having the Knife Angel here in Birkenhead … allows us to reflect back on the devastations caused to families and to victims through knife crime that can last a lifetime.
“But most importantly, it gives us optimism and hope. The work that’s being done across this really strong partnership in Wirral communities [helps] to educate, to work with young people, to stop people carrying knives, to reduce the harm that’s caused.
Ian concluded by saying that the partnership is working to make sure that “children and young people can thrive in our society rather than deal with the devastation that comes from it.
“If we do that, we can galvanise ourselves and work towards much safer streets, streets that are safe for all our communities, and places where in particular young people can thrive.”
If you have information about someone carrying a knife or know someone involved in crime, get in touch @MerPolCC, call 101 or contact @CrimestoppersUK anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The knife amnesty will run until Sunday, 31 July.