A NEW campaign is being launched to inform young people of the dangers of carrying a blade.

Merseyside Police and partners across the county have launched #BladeFree after the growing number of incidents involving knives in the past few years.

Last year alone four people lost their lives in Merseyside due to knife crime, which has devastating effects on the lives of families and friends.

The #BladeFree campaign has been created by working with our partners, which include all Local Authorities; the Police and Crime Commissioner; North West Ambulance Service; Merseyside Fire and Rescue, Crimestoppers and the National Health Service.

It is designed to help young people steer clear of knife crime and other serious violent crime by providing support and opportunities through activities and initiatives such as sport, music, and theatre to build confidence and aspiration and improve practical skills and employability.

Through #BladeFree young people will be directed towards a range of local clubs and activities accessible across Merseyside offering opportunity and the knowledge and confidence to make the right decisions in the future.

This is part of ‘Our Merseyside’ campaign run by Merseyside Police aimed at encouraging young and old to work together to bring pride to communities and keep people safe

Cllr Jeanie Bell, St Helens Council cabinet member for safer communities, said: “For the vast majority of young people in St Helens borough the thought of carrying a knife is completely alien to them.

"But #BladeFree is about reaching out to those who may be at a crossroads in their life and channelling their focus into something positive, encouraging them to aspire to do something good for themselves and avoid taking a path that could lead to finding themselves in dangerous situations that could threaten their freedoms or even lives.

“Sadly there are families across our town who have tragically had to deal with the devastating effects of knife crime on their loved ones and #BladeFree is about trying to stop any more families from experiencing the heartbreak of losing a loved one.

"Knife crime is completely unacceptable and no one should have to fear for their safety because of someone’s reckless actions by carrying a knife.

“We are fortunate to have a fantastic range of community, voluntary and youth groups in our borough who provide a different way for young people to channel their energy and I would encourage them to get involved to help our young people stay #BladeFree to keep themselves and others safe.”

Assistant Chief Constable Jon Roy added: “We are hugely aware of the impact of knife crime on victims, their families, friends and our communities.

“We don’t want people to suffer any longer and that’s why we are doing everything in our power to reduce knife crime through our operational activity including open land searches, stop searches, targeted operations and high visibility patrols, as well as working closely with our communities, schools and safeguarding partners to tackle the problem by taking a more preventative approach. This is at the forefront of our partnership work within the Merseyside Violence Reduction Unit.

“We often hear that young people feel they have no opportunities, or that they’re bored, that they even carry knives for protection or because it’s deemed the ‘norm’ – but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Merseyside is full of passionate people who are doing huge amounts of good work in their local neighbourhoods to educate, divert and influence young people away from knives and other violent crimes and we should do everything in our power to support and share their work.

“The #BladeFree campaign will sit on a central hub, ‘Our Merseyside,’ hosting details of clubs, training opportunities, educational and fun activities that young people can do.

“This is just the beginning – a social movement allowing young people the opportunity to prosper and succeed – by starting this social movement today, we can give young people a better tomorrow.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “Using a knife as a weapon ruins lives and has a devastating impact on families. Sadly, we have seen too many times here in Merseyside the tragedy that can unfold when a knife is used to kill or injure. Just carrying a bladed weapon is an offence.

“We know people across Merseyside want to take action to prevent the use of blades of all kinds and #BladeFree will help us to join forces across all communities and age groups. I would ask everyone to use the hashtag, join the campaign, pledge your support, share its messages and play your part in making Merseyside a safer place for all.

“In particular, I would encourage all community, voluntary and youth groups working with young people to get involved. We know you are already doing great work and we want to support you to build a brighter future for young people free from blades and the widespread fear they can bring.”

For more information visit ourmerseyside.org or @OurMerseyside on social media.

If you provide services, groups and opportunities that could help young people, please visit OurMerseyside.org.