An open letter to local leaders, politicians, youth workers, professionals, universities, public services, young people, the public and anyone who wants an end to knife crime on our streets.

Dear Colleagues,

Everyone is aware that knife crime is a major problem nationally and locally, particularly affecting young people.

We all must collaborate towards a goal of eradicating knife crime from our city. It is essential that we are all connected, with a united front, with aligned messages and complementary interventions.

Our team at Element has been working with partners including South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield Hallam University to conduct an initial investigation into the views of young people on knife ownership and crime.

The first batch of preliminary data and stats are ready and I’ve included these at the end of this blog. A total of 132 young people aged 16-17 have been surveyed.  The survey covers all areas of Sheffield. We are expanding this sample size over the next few months.

There are approximately 30 young people (aged 16 to 18) who want to be involved in a knife crime prevention campaign. These young people have piloted video content and campaign ideas. We will also have a free knife crime workshop available to schools and other educators in Sheffield.

There are many other conversations about knife crime happening in the city. We would like to bring these conversations together to make any action as effective as possible at reducing the immediate impact of knife crime and to set a positive plan for the future.

My colleague Will Earp ([email protected] / 0114 2999 210) is heading up our collaborations with current partners. Please get in touch if you would like to participate in a group conversation, or come to speak to myself and Will.

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you believe should be part of the conversation.

All the best,

Christopher Hill (FRSA)
Chief Executive Officer
(+44) 0114 2999 210


Preliminary* Survey findings (n=132) Of the young people surveyed:

90% of people who have carried a knife have peers that also carry knives

43% that carry a knife live in either S6 or S7

52% that carried a knife were White British

73% believe people carry knives for protection, feeling unsafe

16% believe people carry knives for because of gang-related activity

15% believe people carry knives for related to social reputation (being viewed as ‘cool’ by peers.)

57% of participants said that knife crime occurs due to activity associated with gangs, or rivalries/conflict between groups

67% of those who reported carrying a knife, answered that people carry knives for protection, and 63% answered that knife crime occurs due to gang-related activity (inferring that youths feel like they have to carry a knife in gang-related areas to protect themselves)

* this is an ongoing piece of research and these statistics are generated from the first sample of 132 young people, from Sheffield, aged 16-17, collected July and August 2018.