Two families whose lives were torn apart as a result of knife crime are calling on parents to back a police campaign, by talking to youngsters on the risks of carrying bladed weapons.
Pat McDougall and Gemma Maughan both know first hand the devastating impact someone carrying a knife can have.
Pat’s grandson Glen Corner was killed on his 16th birthday, while Gemma’s brother David Charlton was killed in 2012.
Both lost their lives as a result of a knife attack.
Since their deaths, the two women have been working alongside Acting Inspector Steve Prested and police in a bid to highlight to young people the devastating impact knife crime has on families and to encourage them not to carry knives.
Police say South Tyneside does not have an issue with knife crime as seen in other parts of the country - something they would like to keep that way.
It’s about educating people of the risks and of the impact knife crime can have on people’s lives.Gemma Maughan
Yesterday, police launched a week-long awareness campaign aimed at driving home the message that being armed with a bladed weapon on the streets of South Tyneside will not be tolerated.
They also hope this latest initiative,in addition to the day to day work they carry out to tackle the issue, will encourage more people to talk about the impact knife crime can have on lives and communities in a bid to prevent it from happening.
Officers have already been into schools to highlight the risks around carrying a knife to pupils - including raising awareness of the misguided belief some youngsters may have that carrying a knife will protect them from harm.
Mrs McDougall said: “This initiative is a good way for parents to open up a discussion with their children around the dangers of carrying knives and what they can do if they know of someone who carries a knife.
“I know in South Tyneside the problem is not as bad as elsewhere, but even one incident, one death is one too many.
“Anything which can deter people from carrying knives has to be a good thing and we can all play our part in getting that message across to the young people within our families - that knives really do ruin lives.
“I really can’t thank the police enough for what they are doing to continually raise awareness around knife crime, they have been brilliant, especially Steve Prested, helping to get the message out there.
“I was always proud of my Glen. I know nothing I do will ever bring him back, but to know his death hasn’t been in vain does help a little.”
Mrs Maughan said: “While the incidents in South Tyneside are few and far between, when they do happen, they ruin victims’ lives and the lives of their families.
“It is a difficult subject to talk to your children about, but there are lots of difficult subjects we need to talk to our children about, and we do it, in order to keep them safe.
“It’s about educating people of the risks and of the impact knife crime can have on people’s lives.
“From day one, I can’t fault the police and the help and support they have given me and my family. They couldn’t do more for us.
“And it’s reassuring that, even though the numbers are low, they still see educating people around the risks of carrying knives, is a priority for them to try and prevent this from happening to someone else’s family.
“For me, working with the police to help to keep getting the message across, it’s something positive that I’m doing in David’s memory.”
This week, police are raising awareness of the impact knife crime can have on families and communities.
The move is aimed at driving home the message that being armed with a knife on the streets of South Tyneside will not be tolerated.
They also hope it will encourage people to discuss the impact of knife crime to prevent it from happening.
In the run up to the campaign, officers have been visiting schools to talk to pupils of the dangers of carrying knives.
Police say South Tyneside does not have an issue with knife crime as seen in other parts of the country.
Something which was backed up by a recent Gazette investigation which found only three pupils aged 12 or under have been caught with knives at schools in the last two years – a small figure compared to the rest of the UK where the number of young people caught on school premises with blades has risen by more than a third.