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Gang & Knife Crime Awareness

A knife incident happens every 25 minutes – 4 in 5 offenders aged between 12 years – 20 years and a third of victims aged between 10 years – 17 years!

The Facts

  • Possession of a knife carries a prison sentence of up to 4 years even if it’s not used.
  • If you are caught with a knife it doesn’t matter if it was for your own protection or you were carrying it for someone else – you will be arrested and prosecuted. Self-protection is not a reasonable excuse for carrying an offensive weapon.
  • The legal definition of an offensive weapon includes anything intended to be used to harm another person, like a sharpened comb. It’s also illegal to carry a ‘disguised knife’ – anything with a concealed blade or sharp point that’s made to look like an everyday object (like a pen, cigarette lighter or lipstick).
  • There is no ‘safe place’ to stab someone. Get stabbed in the heart and you can loose all of your blood in one minute. But a wound in the arm or the leg can still kill and young people have died from wounds to the leg because an artery was severed.
  • Knife crime can affect anyone, not just people in gangs. Innocent bystanders can get caught in the middle of other people’s disputes and suffer trauma, serious injuries or worse.
  • Police can – and do – stop and search anyone they think is carrying a weapon.
  • It’s illegal to carry a knife or offensive weapon in a public place without a reasonable excuse. Reasonable excuses include those who need them for work, like fishermen or carpet fitters, but this only applies while they’re actually at work.
  • If you stab somebody and they die, you’ll face a life sentence and serve a minimum of 25 years.
  • Even if it’s not you who does it, if someone is injured or killed by a knife in your presence you could be sent to prison for murder or attempted murder in what is referred to as ‘joint enterprise’.
  • It’s illegal for shops to sell knives to anyone under 18 and buying a knife under the age of 18 is an offence. This includes kitchen knives and even cutlery.
  • By carrying a knife, you are much more likely to get stabbed yourself as situations involving weapons can quickly get out of control.
  • Knives are the most common weapons used in killings of young people.
  • If you have a criminal record you might not be accepted into a college or university, get a job, or travel to some countries, like the USA, Canada or Australia.

Download the fact sheet as a PDF here.

Why do People join Gangs?

A Sense of “Family” – Young people might feel that they don’t receive enough support or attention at home. They may be trying to escape a negative home life, or may be looking for a father figure. Gangs often make promises to give unconditional support, and to become the “family” they never had.

Need for food or money – Gangs may present themselves as a means of survival to youth who lack basic essentials such as food, clothing and shelter. More and more, gang members use their affiliation to make a profit through illegal activities, such as selling drugs and auto theft.

Desire for protection – Communities with high gang activity often see young people join a gang just to survive. It is often easier to join the gang than to remain vulnerable and unprotected in their neighbourhoods.

Peer Pressure – Kids and teens face constant pressure to fit in, and they may not have the support they need to avoid the pressures to join a gang. Peer pressure can come in the form of intimidation, coercion, a dare, harassment, friendly persuasion, or repetitious begging.

Family history or tradition – Families can have gang involvement spanning over multiple generations. This is one of the toughest forms of pressure to escape, as the gang lifestyle is deeply rooted in family traditions and values.

Excitement – Some young people get a rush out of defying authority, or committing crimes. They may be attracted to the gang lifestyle, as it lives outside the law and participates in many illicit behaviours.

To Appear Cool – Gangs have mastered the art of manipulation to attract potential recruits. They wear the latest fashion trends, throw the hottest parties, and drive the coolest cars. They can appear to have the ‘perfect’ lifestyle to a young kid who’s looking to fit in somewhere. The offer an image of “cool” that has been glorified by the media and entertainment industry.

If you have a serious concern about knife crime and gangs, complete our concern form by clicking on the icon below. All information is anonymous and will be dealt with discreetly and sensitively. Just answer the questions and we will pick this up in school.

Useful Links

West Yorkshire Police Online Reporting

GangFree

Your Choice, Your Future

No Knives – Better Lives

Knife Crime.org

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