At Gamechanger, we combine cutting-edge immersive digital experiences, including virtual reality, with traditional drama-based workshops and experiential learning using Gamechanger Challenges targeted for behaviour change.  We aim to tackle the UK’s biggest social issues and provide early intervention programmes to create transformative learning experiences for young people, training for adults and outreach programmes for the wider community.

After the roll-out of our hugely successful Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) and County Lines IMPACT, INTERVENTION and INFORM programmes, we have been working on our next early intervention programmes, this time with a focus on Knife Crime.

Some Knife Crime Statistics:

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes data on crimes recorded by police involving a knife or sharp instrument for a selection of serious violent offences.  In the year ending March 2023, there were around 50,500 offences involving a sharp instrument in England and Wales (excluding Devon & Cornwall). This was 4.7% higher than in 2021/22 but 7% lower than in 2019/20.  Homicide offences In the year ending March 2022, Home Office data shows there were 261 homicides using a sharp instrument, including knives and broken bottles. This meant sharp instruments were used in a staggering 40% of the 594 homicides that occurred in 2021/22.  

Knife crime by police force area using ONS data shows that in 2022/23, West Midlands Police recorded the highest rate of 178 offences per 100,000 population. In contrast, North Yorkshire recorded the lowest rate of 35 offences each, per 100,000 population. Sentencing statistics from the Ministry of Justice shows that in the year ending March 2023, there were just over 19,000 cautions and convictions made for possession of a knife or offensive weapon. Juveniles (aged 10-17) were the offenders in around 18% of cases.

The Ben Kinsella Trust, a charity set-up to educate young people on the dangers of knife crime and help them to make positive choices to stay safe, have recently published some similarly alarming statistics in relation to knife crime in the UK:

  • 5% increase in Police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument year in the last 12 months (to September 2023)
  • 48,716 Police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument year ending September 2023
  • 78% increase in Police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the last 10 years (up to June 2023)

Knife Crime back in the spotlight:

Following the shocking January 2024 murders in Bristol of Mason Rist and Max Dixon and the highly publicised trial of the two youngsters who murdered Brianna Ghey in a Warrington Park, there have been significant and highly justified calls for earlier intervention on knife crime

The Rev Steve Chalke, of Oasis academies where the boys attended school, said the killing of Mason Rist, 15, and his 16-year-old friend Max Dixon in south Bristol was “absolutely devastating” and said it was a “tragic symptom” of a wider crisis affecting young people – made worse by Covid – and called for earlier, therapeutic intervention for children as young as five who are already struggling in school, and support for their parents.

Chalke, a Baptist minister, also called for investment in youth workers to build relationships with young people and work alongside schools, which find themselves “picking up everything that’s broken down in society”.

“The impact on the school and on the whole community is absolutely huge,” said Chalke, whose trust is responsible for 54 schools across England, many of which are in areas facing severe challenges. “Why were these children killed?”

It is not the first tragedy of this kind to affect Oasis. Zaian Aimable-Lina, 15, a pupil at Oasis Academy Shirley Park in Croydon, was stabbed to death in 2021, just months after former pupil Damarie Omare Roye, 16, was fatally stabbed.

“What we’ve learned over the years is that you have to have an emergency plan,” said Chalke. After receiving the news on Sunday morning, a small experienced team was sent to John Williams to help guide the school’s response. A room was set up for people to come and pay tribute and help was provided with the first assembly.

“We know that every child, every staff member – the teachers of these boys – are going to work through their grief in their own way. So what we set up is the opportunity for anyone to come and talk any time, in a confidential way, to be heard, to be listened to.”

Earlier this month, the actor Idris Elba called for more urgent action on youth knife violence, including the immediate banning of machetes and “zombie” knives, and more funding for youth services.

Both the Conservatives and Labour have set out plans to crack down on the availability of large serrated knives and machetes, while Labour has pledged to halve the number of knife offences by the end of a first term. Official statistics show that total knife crime has risen by 70% since 2015, and almost half of all knife possession cases recorded by police last year led to no further action.

In an interview with the Guardian, Chalke said: “Halving knife crime will not be achieved by banning machetes or banning zombie knives. You can kill someone with a knitting needle or a screwdriver. You’ve got to deal with the anger, the fire, the rage, the angst, the trauma inside the person.

“Of course we should ban these knives being sold if we can, but it will not deal with the issue. In fact it’s not even looking at the issue. The issue is, how do we work with these children in our society?”

Chalke said Oasis already works in emergency departments in hospitals in London and Manchester, trying to build connections with young people who are victims of gang violence and those who have tried to take their own lives.

“But we’ve got to move upstream,” he said. “I think what’s wrong with our approach to knife crime is we begin too late. We need to catch kids early. We need to work with children in key stage 1 and key stage 2, because we can see the children that are struggling with school and the parents that are struggling with their children.

“But what we do is wait until key stage 4 when a child has been groomed, when a child is out of school the whole time and when a child is carrying a knife and then we do knife amnesties. We’ve got to start early, to catch them early.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The home secretary has been clear he is determined to put an end to this senseless violence. Part of that plan is to ban the zombie-style knives and machetes that police have identified are increasingly being used in crime.

“The government is also investing heavily in a twin-track approach to tackling knife crime, which combines early intervention and prevention with tough enforcement measures.”

But is this enough?

Gamechanger are committed to making a difference and designing and delivering intervention programmes that truly facilitate better choices and significant behaviour change.

In the next few months Gamechanger will be launching a variety of programmes and initiatives that not only educate children and young people on the complex issues that encompass knife-crime but also facilitate behaviour change that is impactful and long-lasting.

If you would like more information on any of Gamechanger’s programmes, please contact Richard Dawson on email or phone 07752 791545

Meet Gamechanger’s Partnerships and Business Development Executive, Juliet Chappell.

Juliet is a trained facilitator with over 10 years of experience in Theatre in Education (actor, writer workshop leader and director). She has a BA Hons in Modern History from the University of Oxford and a BA Hons in Acting from the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. She is a qualified TEFL teacher and spent many years working across mainland Europe with a number of English language theatre companies and education providers. Juliet has also worked within the UK as an actor on stage and screen.

Juliet joined Gamechanger at the start of 2024, in a change of role from her career in the NHS. She is looking forward to focusing on business development and partnerships, with the hope of expanding the national provision of Gamechanger’s Impact and Intervention products. She is excited to see the portfolio evolve and is proud to be involved in the company’s mission to reach many vulnerable young people at risk of Child Criminal Exploitation and other major social issues.

Away from work, Juliet enjoys exploring the coast and moorland of her home county of Devon. Aside from hiking and sea swimming, she is interested in travelling, languages, theatre, current affairs and food (cooking and eating!)

Meet Gamechanger’s strategy and financial planning expert Richard Adam.

Richard’s role is to provide financial oversight and strategic support for Gamechanger. 

Richard is a qualified accountant and experienced Director with a background in manufacturing and digital businesses, including shared immersive spaces for education and simulated training environments. Richard is supporting the team with financial and strategic enterprise planning, providing a robust framework and development pathway underpinning the consistent and highest standards of service delivery and client satisfaction now and in the future.