Focus: Campaign of the week - Crimestoppers attacks knife crime

Indira Das-Gupta, indira.das-gupta@haynet.com

With the toll of teenagers killed in knife attacks on the rise, Crimestoppers has launched its first-ever campaign targeting 13 to 16-year-olds.

Game Over for Knives is designed to persuade young people not to arm themselves and to raise awareness of the charity's anonymous phone service.

Statistically, young people are the most likely to become the victims of crime. Last year, more than 20 teenagers died as a result of knife crime, and this year there has been a spate of high-profile murders, such as that of Liverpool student Anthony Walker, who was knifed in the head.

The charity has identified a developing "knife fashion" among young adults that is contributing to the problem. "More and more young people are carrying knives for protection," explained Michele Harris, PR and marketing manager at Crimestoppers. "Many carry them because they are frightened of bullies, for example. But figures show that 65 per cent of people who carry knives become victims of knife attacks themselves. So we are trying to get teenagers not to carry them in the first place."

Crimestoppers' phone service does not trace calls or record any information about those who ring in, but the charity's research shows that not enough young people are aware of its existence.

In order to get its two campaign messages across, the charity recruited design company This Way Up. It devised an interactive website, at www.gameover4knives.com, which tells the story of a teenager who becomes the victim of a knife attack.

"We got a group of teenagers in to rate the different ideas the company came up with," said Harris. "They really liked the website because it looks just like the video games they play."

Crimestoppers will distribute posters and "teaser cards" that carry images from the website accompanied by the address and the slogan "What's the story?"

"We will be distributing the cards and posters at schools and youth centres," said Harris. "The idea is to make people curious and get them to go to the site."

A lot of the activity will take place through Crimestoppers' local boards, which target local and regional press as well as relevant local community groups. The charity will also be sending out a free educational resource to 1,000 primary schools, called Me, Myself and Eye.

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