The borough’s ‘Lives not Knives’ campaign took a step into the classroom in November. 14, 15 and 16-year-old pupils from George Mitchell school, where I am a governor, received a talk from the borough’s Superintendent Stewart Rivers, and the council’s violent crimes officer, Mike Jervis, on the dangers involved in carrying knives.
The teenagers were told that 13% of kids living in Waltham Forest now carry knives but that if caught, offenders face a stiff five-year jail sentence and other harsh punishments. The students also learned that the British Transport Police is about to begin conducting regular knife searches on the buses.
The Waltham Forest Saftey Net Partnership, made up of representatives including the police and the council, is launching a new campaign to ask parents to dispose of unwanted knives and to ask young people living in Waltham Forest to place their knives in the ‘amnesty bins’ currently located around the borough.
The talk was well received by teachers and pupils alike. Sharif, 16, said, “The message I took away is not to carry a knife. It’s not worth getting shifted (arrested) for it”. Philicia and Sandra, both aged 15, thought the amnesty bins were a good idea. They said, “People will use the bins instead of going into the police station. This will help them protect their reps (reputations)”.
I am particularly proud about having organised the talk. The reality is that many of our kids are being exposed to knives but many are not aware of the serious consequences. Everyone really enjoyed the assembly and most importantly they learnt a lot. I hope other schools in the borough will invite Mike and Stewart in if they haven’t already done so.