With 14-year-old Tomasz Oleszak, from Gateshead, Gordon Gault, 14, from Benwell and now Holly Newton, 15, from Haltwhistle, losing their lives to knife crime within the last 4 months alone, Stop Knives Taking Lives campaigners are urging parents to educate their children about the devastating consequences of carrying knives and encouraging members of the community to inform police if they know of anyone carrying a blade.
Both Northumbria Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuiness, have expressed their support for the campaign, with the emergency services experiencing a staggering increase in stabbings across the North East, particularly those involving young people.
Assistant Chief Constable, Brad Howe, described tackling knife crime as ‘a collective responsibility,’ reiterating the message that 'your actions today could help to save the life of a loved one.’
Throughout the campaign Chronicle Live will give a voice to the families torn apart by knife crime, like that of Gordon Gault, whose mum Dionne Barrett, strongly endorses Stop Knives Taking Lives, explaining that ‘something has to change.’ Through a combination of testimonies and efforts to raise awareness of knife laws, campaigners hope to expose the harsh realities of knife crime and deter people from reaching for blades.
Many families have welcomed guidelines published this month by the Sentencing Council: which sentence those who sell knives to under-18s. But, Alison Madgin, mother of 18-year-old Samantha who was killed in 2007, highlights that more needs to be done to safeguard young people.
‘The trouble is kids can get knives from anywhere. They can just take them out the drawer in the kitchen.’ While anything that keeps knives off the street is a step forward, campaigns like Stop Lives Taking Knives will work alongside these measures to challenge existing attitudes about knives.