An iconic sculpture which is to act as a stark warning of the dangers of knife crime has been welcomed by Stoke-on-Trent City leaders.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has worked with a number of partners to bring the striking ‘Knife Angel’ – the national monument against all forms of violence – to the Smithfield Centre in April.
The Knife Angel is an arresting 27-foot tall statue made up of 100,000 knives and blades that have been confiscated by police forces up and down the country. The sculpture comes to the city as part of a national tour, alongside a month of education and awareness activities on knife crime, and a knife amnesty.
Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for leisure, culture and public health said: “We’re really excited to be bringing the Knife Angel to Stoke-on-Trent. It is an important opportunity to continue work to highlight the devastating impact that knife crime can have, and to educate people young and old across the city.
“It is a really poignant piece of art work and adds to the diversity of the cultural landscape on offer here in Stoke-on-Trent. Throughout April, as well as having the Knife Angel on display, we will also have a number of engagement activities happening in schools across the city. I hope that people from all across the region will come and visit this striking sculpture, and that by having it here, that it can support work to make our streets safer.”
Residents and visitors will be able to see the Knife Angel on display at Smithfield in the city centre throughout April.
During the month a general weapons amnesty, organised by Staffordshire Police, is also being proposed, in the form of a ‘surrender’ secure bin which travels with the angel. There will also be an opportunity for young people to become National Anti-Violence Champions.
Council Leader, Abi Brown said: “Knife crime sadly remains a serious issue within many communities right across the country. We’re committed to working in partnership to tackle it here in Stoke-on-Trent. The Knife Angel will build on really important work that is being delivered under Operation Sceptre, a campaign with Staffordshire Police to draw attention to the harm caused by knife crime and to take action against perpetrators. This work saw a week of co-ordinated activities take place in the city last November, with knife amnesty bins available. It drew attention to the deeply traumatic stories of families who have lost loved ones and been torn apart through knife crime. We have staged education and drama workshops with young people to highlight the dangers of carrying a blade. The presence of the Knife Angel in the city will reinforce the work that is already underway, and we encourage as many people as possible to visit it.”
Rob Hessell, Chief Inspector at Staffordshire Police, said: “We are committed to tackling knife crime through our Ditch the Blade campaign which supports the national Operation Sceptre initiative. The Knife Angel coming to Stoke-on-Trent provides an opportunity to build on this ongoing work.
“The Knife Angel encourages the surrender of knives and 1,800 of the knives used in the sculpture were provided from amnesties in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Surrender bins for the safe disposal of knives will be available at Longton Police Station and near to the sculpture whilst it is in the city.
“The education and engagement activities organised encourage open and honest discussions about knife crime. We also need parents to speak children about the issues, about their thoughts, worries etc around it and explain the consequences of carrying. While some young people pick up a knife to feel safer, they don’t realise that carrying it makes them more likely to get into serious danger. A knife can escalate things way out of your control, and make a bad situation much worse.”
The iconic statue was the brainchild of British Ironwork Centre’s Clive Knowles, and was crafted by artist Alfie Bradley. It aims to raise awareness of knife crime and give people a place where they can hand over knives safely.
Clive’s ambition was to create an angel sculpture made completely out of recovered dangerous knives, to seize the country’s attention and bring the issue of knife crime to the very forefront of society’s agenda. Clive contacted and met with families tragically effected by knife crime and together presented his vision to the Home Office, accompanied by several mothers. He requested permission to collect knives from all of the UK’s police forces, all 43 constabularies.
The Knife Angel was created to highlight the negative effects of violent behaviour while solidifying the critical need for social change. Not only does the angel act as a catalysis for turning the tide on violent and aggressive behaviour, it also acts as a beautiful memorial designed to celebrate those lives that have been lost through these violent and thoughtless actions.
Joel Chandler, from Genr8 Developments, the developer of the Smithfield site, said: “We are really pleased to be supporting the council in bringing this iconic structure to Stoke-on-Trent and to Smithfield. It holds a significant message and hopefully will provide a good opportunity for our communities to come together and educate. We are really looking forward to its installation and to welcoming the public to Smithfield throughout this period of time.”
For more information about the Knife Angel please visit www.visitstoke.co.uk/knifeangel