Students learned first-hand the devastating impact knife crime can have on families.

Pupils have been educated on the risks of knife crime and looked at ways in which youngsters make sure they are making the right choices.

Francis Combe Academy in Garston became the first school in the area to take part in the 'peace week' education scheme. Police officers from Watford visited the school where they spoke with year 7 pupils.

Two dedicated Youth Crime Police Community Support Officers were also there throughout the week, building on their rapport with the youngsters. It was made possible thanks to funding from Watford BID and intu Watford.

The school has already been taking steps to stop youngsters falling onto the wrong path, working with Safety Box, a youth violence intervention organisation.

Watford Observer:

Safety Box presentation at Francis Combe Academy

Principal at Francis Combe Academy, Deborah Warwick, said: “When we were asked to be involved in this pilot we did not hesitate to accept.

“We have a full appreciation and understanding of the challenges young people have to overcome in today’s society and therefore have adopted a relentless approach to educating them in how to help themselves to make the right choices.”

Thanks to a jointly funded initiative between police and the Chessbrook Education Support Centre, PCSO Daisy Jenkins and PCSO Keith Sayers have been working with both primary and secondary schools across the town, including Chessbrook, since January.

On May 9, families were invited to a presentation at the school where anti-knife crime campaigner Alison Cope spoke about the devastating impact knives have had on her life. Alison tragically lost her 18-year-old son Joshua Ribera in September 2013, after he was stabbed outside a Birmingham night club.

The next day, Alison met with Watford Chief Inspector Matt Phillips, safer neighbourhood inspector Simon Mason and partners from Watford Borough Council to talk about the wider strategy in place to tackle youth and knife-related crime in Watford.

Inspector Mason said: “While we don’t have a critical knife crime issue in Watford, we realise that in the current climate there is a need to educate and support our young people to enable them to make positive choices.

“We know the majority of young people are sensible, mature and law-abiding and will go on to achieve great things. For example, we conducted a knife-arch operation at West Herts College last September and a total of 3,000 students were searched. We were pleased to report that not one weapon was found.

“This scheme is the result of months of dedicated hard work from my team, and I believe it will make a real difference. We are looking forward to continuing our prevention work with more schools going forward.”

Since May 2018, 593 people under the age of 25 were stopped and searched in Watford. 24 of those had a weapon – some of which were knives – seized from them.