Do you think your friend or family member is perhaps carrying a knife?
Or is at risk from a gang?
Are they being threatened or asked to do something they shouldn’t?
Do you think they might be involved in crime?
If so, you're probably going through a whole mixture of emotions – fear, worry, anger, pain.
Victim of knife crime
If a friend or family member has been a victim of knife crime then you, or someone close to your friend, should contact the police if they've not already been notified. You can do this by speaking to your Local Policing Team or by going to your nearest police station. If it's an emergency, call 999 now, particularly if they are still at risk.
If they've been threatened but not injured it is still a matter for the police and should be reported – we want to protect people before anything happens to them or before they are put in a situation and they do something they regret. We can take steps to safeguard that person.
If you feel unable to talk to the police, you could contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111. (You don't have to give your name and your call will not be traced).
How else can you help?
Depending on what type of incident they've been involved in, your friend or child may be experiencing many types of emotion:
denial (pretending it didn't happen)
You might be one of the only people they feel they can be honest with. Encourage them to speak to the police if they haven't already. If you don't think they're going to make the call, perhaps speak to someone like a parent or teacher, or call the police yourself.
Who else can help?
If your child or friend has been the victim of this type of crime, and has been seriously injured or worse, you are now probably going through grief that most people will never experience. If you have not already been contacted by Victim Support, you may wish to go to Victim Support or call 0845 30 30 900.
I think they're involved in knife crime
It can be extremely worrying to think that your child, family member or friend is involved in something as dangerous as gang, knife or gun crime.
Maybe they're not carrying a weapon themselves but are associated with people who are. The natural reaction is to panic - but this won't resolve the situation and could push them away.
The consequences of taking no action, though, could be extremely serious for your child or someone else. You must do something about it.
If you discover they've been carrying a weapon, you'll almost certainly question why. If they're willing to talk about it, they might give you a number of reasons:
to gain respect
to intimidate or harass
peer pressure or being pressured into carrying it for someone else
Whatever the reason, it is likely to have something to do with fear. Even if they don't admit it, a young person getting involved in weapons will be frightened and continuously looking over their shoulder. They'll be waiting for the police to stop and search them, or to be confronted by others, and in the end will be grateful for a ‘way out’ of that lifestyle.
What can you do?
The consequences and dangers of knife crime and becoming involved in crime are real.
Sometimes having difficult conversations, while uncomfortable at the time, can be vital in preventing something more serious from happening. For example - telling someone’s parents that you think their son or daughter is involved in something they shouldn’t, or having a tough conversation with your child is better than having to visit them in hospital or attend their funeral; or telling the police a friend is carrying a knife will be better than seeing your mate stabbed or watching them stab someone else.
While that is the worst case scenario – it is the harsh reality and we want to do everything we can to prevent any of that from happening to another young person. Help us to help them.
Being a good friend or parent isn’t always easy. But there are lots of places you can go to for help - either for a friend or yourself. You can talk to parents, teachers, youth workers, various charities or the police who can provide support to you, both to prepare for difficult conversations and then to support you afterwards.
If you are a parent - talk to the parents of your child's friends. If you're worried, they probably are as well. They may see your child in different places, hanging out with different friends and could help you get a better understanding of the situation. By working together you could raise awareness.
If you are a friend – you can talk to your friend’s parents, their teacher, social services or the police.
Whatever your relationship is, if they are at risk – tell someone.
Is it part of a something bigger?
If you think there might be more to it than a one-off incident and that maybe them being threatened or injured by a weapon has something to do with gang crime; or that your child/friend is being asked to do things for a gang. Then you need to speak to police and we can start to take steps to protect people and reduce the risk to them. You could also pass on information anonymously through Crimestoppers.
There are also trained professionals who can offer confidential help, advice and counselling support for you and your child. Encourage your child to speak to Childline on 0800 1111 if you feel you are unable to give them the help they might need.
People might carry a knife or become involved in crime for many different reasons, and there isn’t one specific thing or issue that is solely responsible. However, we know that violence and knife crime are often the results of other issues such as drug dealing, organised crime and gang culture.
Sometimes people involved in crime will take advantage of young people and manipulate them into doing things they wouldn’t normally do such as helping to sell drugs, carrying weapons or stealing for example, all of which put young people at risk.
The tactics that these people use are clever, and someone might not understand they are being used or “groomed” to start doing things that could put them at risk. We know that most people want to feel that they are liked and part of a group.
Gangs and criminals use tactics that make young people feel that they will be looked after, or that they will gain respect or money. They promise protection, buy gifts such as trainers or phones or lend them money. But this means the young person is then in their debt and will owe them favours – such as carrying weapons or selling drugs. They have no problem with making money by putting a young person at risk.
Knowing the signs to spot can mean that you can help a friend before it’s too late – before they either get hurt or do something that they end up regretting and getting into serious trouble. We know that some young people have made split decisions in the heat of the moment that have unfortunately changed their lives for ever. Find out more information about the signs to spot.
Who else can I talk to?
If you are worried and want help to keep either a young person or yourself safe, you can contact the following organisations:
Childline counsellors can support young people 24 hours a day, you can call them on 0800 1111.