Swindon Borough Council is working with its partners to launch a campaign aimed at educating young people and parents about the risks associated with carrying weapons and drug abuse.
Save a Friend will aim to encourage young people to help a friend if they think they are at risk of being exploited, educate young people about the dangers of carrying a weapon and signpost to agencies who can provide support for young people and their families.
Although a rise in knife crime has been reported across the country, Wiltshire has one of the lowest rates in the UK. The Council, in partnership with Wiltshire Police and Swindon’s secondary schools and colleges, is taking a proactive approach to ensure that crime involving the use of weapons does not become an issue in Swindon.
The campaign aims to reassure both young people and their parents or carers and give them the information they need to recognise if someone is trying to draw a young person into this type of activity. Information will also be provided on how young people can support each other and where they can go if they need help.
The Save a Friend campaign is taking place from Thursday (19 Sep) until 26 September. The programme of activity will coincide with Operation Sceptre, a national Police knife and weaponry amnesty.
Over the two weeks, pupils will have the opportunity to listen to guest speakers who have experiences of gang involvement and drug abuse. There will also be firearm and knife education sessions hosted by the police and a dedicated school curriculum on the issue.
Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: ““It is important that we educate our young people on the dangers of gang activity and the dangers of using weapons.
“The work we are doing with the schools and colleges in Swindon will help young people to make the right choices and become more resilient.
“We don’t want to see any young person being criminally exploited in Swindon. At the same time as tackling the people responsible for these crimes, we are educating our children and young people about the signs and the risks, so that they can make the right choices.”
Sgt David Tippetts said: “The ‘Save a Friend’ campaign is an excellent way of educating young people to look out for each other and stay safe.
“It’s important that young people know the warning signs and the risks associated with carrying weapons. This coupled with information for teaching staff and parents really does encompass everyone who can make a difference and will continue to reduce fear amongst young people.
“Wiltshire Police fully support this initiative and we will continue to work with partner agencies in our approach to knife crime.”