Researchers will go into schools in Yorkshire asking young people if seeing pictures of knives in the media make them more likely to carry one.
Sunday, 1st November 2020, 6:00 am
Forensic researchers at Sheffield Hallam University have joined with South Yorkshire and Thames Valley’s violence reduction units, which were recently set up following Home Office funding to tackle rising knife crime rates, to look at the impact of knife imagery on young people.
The study, funded by N8 Policing Research Partnership, will explore whether images of confiscated knives, both with in-person interventions and in the media, may actually increase young people’s desire to carry one.
They will also look at whether knife imagery can change young people’s perceptions on how common it is to carry one.
Experts hope to be able to better inform police teams and campaigners who go into schools and work with young people educating them on the dangers of carrying weapons.
Sheffield Hallam Psychologist Dr Charlotte Coleman said: “This research contributes to our ongoing work around violent crime and will enable us to inform the development of future work into knife crime reduction.”
The research will commence this month and will take the form of visits to schools in South Yorkshire and Thames Valley asking pupils their thoughts when they see pictures of knives in the news and in public campaigns.
Mike Parker, Performance Review Officer for the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “We want to make sure that our messages have impact.
“What we don’t know is if pairing them with images of knives improves or distracts from these messages.
“What we don’t want is to frighten young people into thinking that carrying a knife is more common than it is.
“This research will help us understand how young people react to knife images, and make sure we get it right.”
It comes as figures released this week showed knife crime levels were at a record high before lockdown in March.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “For some time now knife crime has blighted too many lives and communities, including some in South Yorkshire.
“I am often asked to fund campaigns to deter people from carrying knives that feature photographs or images of them.
“However, we need to be sure that these images do indeed deter rather than frighten or cause anxiety or lead people to think they must take them up as ‘protection’.
“I welcome this research which, hopefully, will give us some definitive answers to these crucial concerns.”
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