Knife crime in Cumbria is on the rise as “Knife Angel” sculpture is installed in Carlisle.
At first, it was underage drinking, then it was the youth vaping epidemic and now it’s rampant knife crime. With knife-related crime incidents spiking by 51% in Cumbria between 2016 and 2021, according to LancsLive.
Now an initiative has been launched to raise awareness of this particularly harmful crime with the “Knife Angel” - a towering sculpture composed of more than 100,000 seized knives.
Crafted by the British Ironworks Centre to highlight the negative effects of knife crime, the angel will be on display in Carlisle in December 2021 and Barrow in January 2022 while on its UK-wide tour.
Sergeant Chris Blain of Cumbria Police commented by saying: "We are pleased that the Knife Angel will be coming to Carlisle in December. The visit of the Angel will provide a platform to launch a month-long awareness program in schools and other organisations.”
The angel started as a project by the British Ironworks Centre after the success of their famous spoon gorilla made from 40,000 spoons.
From this, the team wanted to create something with more impact and after an enthusiastic visitor asked if they intended to use the entire cutlery drawer, they began thinking about the knife crime epidemic.
After contacting the home office to work with the UK’s police forces, permission was granted and the “Save a life, Surrender a knife” project was born.
The team then began supplying knife amnesty bins to each police force, free of charge, as the current police budget cuts meant the police didn’t have the funds to carry out knife amnesties themselves as some of these bins cost £4,000 each.
In total, there were 200 knife amnesty bins fitted across the country.
To prepare the knives, they had to be cleaned as some arrived in evidence bags containing bodily fluid, and blunted to remove their sharp edges.
Then, a figure was crafted from steel, to which the knives would be welded. The wings of the angel were created by exclusively using only the knives, giving the wings a feather-like silhouette.
Victims of knife crime were also invited to inscribe messages on a blade that would be mounted on the angel, telling the story of the tragedy and heartbreak knife crime can bring, with the team receiving over 80 requests from families to be part of the project.
Additionally, Cumbria police are hosting two strategic operations this December to tackle knife crime in Cumbria, it's the perfect time to coincide with the Knife Angel.
Operation Divan aims to look at the dangers and consequences of carrying knives for the purpose of malicious intent.
Whereas Operation Sceptre acts as a knife/weapon amnesty where members of the public can anonymously hand in their knives and weapons.
Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Carrying knives and sharp weapons will not be tolerated in Cumbria – if you are caught you will face the very serious consequences; I would urge anyone tempted to carry knives or any other weapon in public, to hand over any illegal weapons during the knife amnesty.”
If you have been a victim of a knife crime, we urge you to report it to the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
However, if you feel you are in danger and cannot speak to the police, you can contact victim support on 0300 303 0157 between 8 am-6 pm for additional support.