The ways Derbyshire police are trying to warn young people about the dangers of knife crime

How Derbyshire police are trying to warn young people about the dangers of knife crime

Project Zao is the Derbyshire Police project to reduce knife crime. Photo: Derbyshire Police

Officers from Derbyshire police have been revealing the ways they have been trying to warn young people about the dangers of knife crime.

Inviting schoolchildren to hear from former gang members and arranging for officers to visit schools across the county to issue warnings about knives are among some of the force’s tactics.

These details have been revealed as reports emerged that it will now be easier for officers nationwide to stop and search people without needing reasonable suspicion – in a bid to tackle rising knife crime.

Collection of knives used as weapons
A generic photo showing a collection of knives. Credit: CapCase.

Derbyshire police said it had also joined forces with local youth organisations and schools in a bid to reduce knife crime among teenagers.

Force inspector Rich Keene is leading Project Zao – a campaign which aims to educate, prevent and enforce the consequences of knife crime by highlighting the dangers of carrying a blade.

Insp Keene said: “Our officers have been visiting schools across the county warning of the dangers of carrying a knife, as part of Project Zao for the past two years.

“Derbyshire Constabulary is a lead force in relation to its response to knife crime and its causes. We are seen as a beacon for other forces in terms of education and engagement and are acknowledged.”

Joshua Iredale, a spokesperson for Derbyshire Police said: “We will also be holding knife forums, where young people from schools and colleges will be able to hear from former gang members – and the effect that carrying a knife had on them.”

What is changing to the way police stop and search?

Meanwhile, it will now be easier for officers to search people without needing reasonable suspicion, according to reports.

These stop and searches will only occur in places where the police believe there is a risk of serious violence.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The police are on the front line in the battle against serious violence and it’s vital we give them the right tools to do their jobs.”

The police are trialling this new tactic in London, the West Midlands, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, South Wales and Greater Manchester, as reports said this was where 60% of the UK’s knife crime occurs.

In Derbyshire, according to police statistics, there were 27 occasions where a stop and search took place in Derby in January 2019 – 15 of which took place in the city centre area.

Mr Iredale said: “Our stop and search strategy is based on an intelligence-led approach. Part of this approach relies on members of the public reporting anyone they suspect of carrying a knife to us.”

For more information on knife crime, click here, or if you have any information and wish to report it contact Crimestoppers, or call 111.