Young victims of violence and exploitation have co-produced a gripping social media campaign revealing the horrifying consequences of knife crime and gang culture.
The #STOPVIOLENCE campaign, which has been under development since December, has been funded by Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping to lift the veil on weapon-enabled violence and exploitation and direct vulnerable victims and their parents and carers towards help.
Developed by marketing firm Powell and Barns Group Ltd, the project amassed the personal experiences and views of young people across Nottinghamshire through a series of city and county focus groups.
The research has culminated in the production of a series of hard-hitting films, shot in and around Nottingham, retelling the graphic stories of victims of gang culture, sexual exploitation, online bullying, intimidation, joint enterprise and ‘county lines’ in a bid to shatter illusions about violence and gang culture.
The campaign, which launched today (Friday) at Blend Coffee Shop in Creative Quarter, Sneinton Market, Nottingham, is part of the VRU’s ongoing work to prevent young people from being drawn to violent crime.
In October 2018, figures published by the Office for National Statistics revealed a significant rise in youth violence in Nottinghamshire – particularly knife crime – with 861 incidents involving a knife or a sharp instrument, compared to 763 incidents the previous year.
The knife crime figures were the highest since published figures began in 2011.
Since then, a huge multi-agency effort has been underway to reduce violence and knife crime and help support young people to a safer future.
Latest figures show knife crime has fallen sharply in Nottinghamshire – reducing by 13 per cent in the year end to March 2020 and bucking the national trend which saw the number of similar offences rise to a new record high.
Despite this, the VRU is determined to do more to protect young people from violence and educate them of the risks.
Campaign director Marceline Powell, from the Powell and Barns Group, said: “We are delighted to have such tremendous support to create this important campaign for Nottinghamshire.
“It has been led by young people from start to finish and they have been the key focus throughout. It is time we listened and understood the experiences and concerns of young people in Nottinghamshire, and thanks to the OPCC and the VRU, this campaign allows them to have a voice.”
Paddy Tipping, VRU chair, added: “Every stage of this campaign has been influenced and guided by young people and there is a very good reason for that. It is vital we use the language and medium appropriate to young people so the message resonates with them and leaves a lasting impression.
“We make no apology for the realism and emotive testimonies portrayed in these films. We want young viewers to remember what they have seen and heard forever and if we can stop just one young person carrying a knife then a life may have been saved.
“While the VRU and its partners are pleased with the recent downward trend of knife crime, there is much more work to do and we simply cannot become complacent. Campaigns like #STOPVIOLENCE will support the work we are undertaking at a community level to give young people purpose, skills and confidence to strive for a better future.”
The campaign will be reinforced by a poster awareness campaign across the city and county’s bus stops and public spaces to reach young people, their parents and carers and communities and guide them towards help.
The project has received the full support of Nottinghamshire Police, statutory services, community providers and prevention experts and features the concerns of parents, carers and residents in relation to knife crime and gang activity.
Project developers aim to unravel the underlying issues and change the narrative among young people as well as empowering parents, carers, and families by providing information, advice and guidance through an online information portal: www.hashtagng.co.uk.
A series of focus groups with young people were held across the city and county while consultations were conducted with grassroots organisations and key services including Nottinghamshire Police, local authorities, youth justice services and prevention experts such as the charity ‘Red Thread’ which works with victims of violence in the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
Actors, performers and models for the campaign were supplied by Bilborough College in the city, and youth consultants from local neighbourhoods assisted with content development to ensure authenticity and a true reflection of the issues covered by the campaign.
Campaign Web portal: https://www.hashtagng.co.uk Photograph shows Sophie, PCC Paddy Tipping, Rob and Jack
Note to editors:
For media enquiries on the campaign, contact Marceline Powell (Powell and Barns Group) E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 0203 774 1262 M: 07473 694983
For press and media enquiries related to Nottinghamshire PCC and VRU, contact Sallie Blair. E: email@example.com T: 07702 541401.
Notts VRU: https://www.nottsvru.co.uk/
Facebook Page - @nottscommunitysolutions
Campaign Web portal: https://www.hashtagng.co.uk