A gripping new video delving inside the lives of young men impacted by violence in Nottinghamshire has been released as part of the social media campaign shattering myths about knife crime.
The ‘Community Voices’ was released alongside Operation Sceptre - a national week of action against knife crime - and is the last in a series of short films, co-produced with young people, which has been funded by Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping to lay bare the devastating consequences of carrying knives.
Since launching in September, the #STOPVIOLENCE social media campaign has received thousands of views while directing vulnerable victims and their parents and carers towards professional help and support.
Hard-hitting films, shot in and around Nottingham, have retold the stories of victims of gang culture, sexual exploitation, online bullying, intimidation, joint enterprise and ‘county lines’ in a bid to lift the lid on violence and gang culture.
In the final film, the unglamorous, no details spared, truth is revealed through a series of interviews with local people including Damien Henry who has previously been affected by gangs and grooming and is now a community activist.
Other voices include a local apprentice and a DJ impacted by violence as well as community workers, a Police Officer and trauma surgeon Adam Brooks from Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre.
The video, which was developed by marketing firm Powell and Barns Group Ltd and involved student actors and performers from Bilborough College in the city, was filmed at the Broadway Cinema, Nottingham Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottinghamshire Police’s Bridewell Custody Suite.
Dave Wakelin, VRU Director, said: “The real impact of this video comes from the fact these are local people telling local Nottinghamshire stories. These are real life accounts of people who have been affected by knife violence and for me, that’s what makes it so powerful.
“We can learn from their accounts and experiences. Their insight is essential for us as a VRU to understand the causes of violence. We often end up policing the consequences of knife crime and these accounts give us the opportunity to start to understand the ‘why’ so we can stop it happening and prevent escalations in our community.”
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping added: “One of the primary ambitions of this campaign is to ‘tell it like it really is’ with no gloss or censorship and this final video is very much testament to that mind-set.
“Young people look to their peers for guidance and validation which can be positive or negative. Here, we have young people sharing their experiences to make a difference in the world around them and we hope the truths they reveal will strike a chord with young people and prompt the right response.”
The #STOPVIOLENCE campaign has been in development since December 2019.
Project workers amassed the personal experiences and views of young people across Nottinghamshire through a series of city and county focus groups.
Campaign director Marceline Powell, from the Powell and Barns Group, said: “We are hugely proud of the campaign and the level of interest it is receiving from young people themselves and their parents and carers.
“The success of this project is down to the brave young people who have candidly shared their stories and in doing so potentially saved many lives from being ruined by the horrors of knife crime and violence.
“The challenges continue and we must now use the attention of this campaign as a positive platform to bring further change.”
The VRU is at the centre of a huge multi-agency effort to reduce violence and knife crime across Nottinghamshire and help support young people to a safer future.
Figures show knife crime continues to fall in Nottinghamshire – reducing by 11% in the year end to June 2020, bucking the regional and national trend – but the VRU is determined to do more.
Carers, parents and families can continue to access and share this online portal: www.hashtagng.co.uk for information, advice and help.
Find out more about the work taking place in Nottingham: