KIM McGUINNESS: 'Why I applaud the Connor Brown Trust’s latest initiative in the fight against knife crime'

Last week the front page of the Echo featured Tanya and Simon Brown, the incredible parents of Connor Brown - whose life was tragically cut short on a night out in Sunderland City Centre in 2019.

"We have to do all we can to win the fight against knife crime. We can’t let knife crime claim anymore lives."
"We have to do all we can to win the fight against knife crime. We can’t let knife crime claim anymore lives."

Since his death they have campaigned tirelessly, doing all they can to prevent history repeating itself. This week they shared their latest mission to save lives – bringing bleed packs to the pubs and clubs of Sunderland, and I want to applaud them for making this happen.

Let me be clear, our number one aim is to prevent any acts of violence from happening at all, but in the very worst-case scenario when it does happen, these bleed kits are about being prepared and preventing a life being lost.

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Tanya said it perfectly herself – “these aren’t there to frighten people, they can only do their best, but they can make a difference”.

The very idea that some young people are choosing to arm themselves with knives is a huge concern. In the UK, deaths due to knife crime have increased by 36% since 2011. It’s a national problem - but we cannot hide from the fact that the North East has had its share of devastation. With each loss, we are left upset and angry, and determined to bring about any changes we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

And while I don’t want anyone to ever be faced with the situation of having to save someone’s life following a knife attack, it’s better to be equipped to step in and stop a bleed while the clock is ticking, and paramedics are on their way. These packs can mean life and death while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, and we all know how under pressure all our emergency services are.

Our vision has to be ending knife crime once and for all, but parents and carers would much rather know there were bleed control packs in the bars across town when their kids head out for the night. Just like a defibrillator, buying time should a critical incident arise.

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Northumbria Police has a very clear no tolerance approach to knife crime and uses countless tactics to fight and prevent violent crimes such as dedicated operations and intelligence-led stop and search activity.

My Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit is also pushing forwards with vital targeted intervention work, force-wide education programmes and a range of youth work initiatives. We have to do all we can to win the fight against knife crime. We can’t let knife crime claim anymore lives.