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City rivals join forces to launch anti-knife crime campaign

Four rival titles have come together to launch a joint bid to tackle knife crime on their city patch.

Reach plc-owned Bristol Live, National World title Bristol World, and independents Bristol 24/7 and the Bristol Cable have joined forces a new campaign, Together for Change.

It comes after the horrific deaths of three 16-year-olds to knife crime in the city over the course of 18 days at the end of January and the start of February.

Supporters of the campaign, which also includes community leaders, want to set up a task force to look at how best to tackle the issue of knife crime and use its fundings to lobby the government for change.

The project also aims to look at the regulations around harmful knife-related content on social media, and how knife crime is linked to poverty, social exclusion and the collapse in youth services.

The campaign launch provided a splash for Bristol Live’s sister print title the Bristol Post yesterday.

BristolLive editor Pete Gavan said: “I knew it was something we had to campaign on, but that it would take time to get it right.

“While I was planning it I thought it would be great if we – the Bristol media – along with those across the city who know the issue best – could join forces and present a united front.

“After contacting the other publishers they quickly came on board. It’s been great working closely together on setting out the objectives of the campaign and getting the initial buy-in from community leaders. It’s a complex issue and collaborating really helped us drill down on what mattered which was working with the community, rather than just talking ‘at’ them.

“We’ll continue to work together as the campaign develops. This is not a quick fix and we’re all here for the long haul.”

Ellie Pipe, deputy editor of Bristol24/7, said: “Against a backdrop of cuts to public services and youth provision, knife crime is devastating families and communities. We hope that by coming together, highlighting this vital work, collaborating with campaigners and stakeholders and putting pressure on those in power, we can start to make a difference.

“We certainly don’t have all the answers. This campaign is as much about listening, collaborating and providing a platform as it is taking action, but our collective message is clear, we want to understand the root causes of knife crime and tackle this issue and its heartbreaking impact.”

Sean Morrison, reporter at the Bristol Cable, said: “Knife violence among young people is a national issue that’s as complex as it is devastating, and it doesn’t exist in isolation. It’s set in a wider social context where insecure housing, exclusion from education, unemployment, addiction, mental health issues, and the impact of government cuts are factors at the heart of the problem.

“We want to better understand the social issues that underpin the knife epidemic in the city and amplify the voices of those most deeply affected, working with communities, authorities and charities to build on a local effort to make a real difference.”

And Bristol World reporter Charlie Watts said: “Many in Bristol have been speaking out against knife crime for ages and now is the time they were finally listened to by the powers that be. Whether that’s reopening youth clubs, installing knife amnesty bins or promoting life-saving bleed kits, we need to be taking proactive steps to tackle this epidemic plaguing our city.

“We cannot afford to lose any more young lives. We need to be supporting those initiatives that are making our streets a safer place to live and creating a better future for our youth. It is only by working together we can achieve that change.”

The four publications together with other supporters have penned an ‘open letter’ to the city setting out their plans.

Here is the letter in full:


Today we come together as a city united to say enough is enough. We must see an end to the scourge of knife crime that has hit the city in recent weeks, months and years.

Knife crime has a devastating effect on the communities it impacts. And never has this been more clear than what’s happened so far in Bristol in 2024.

Over just 18 days at the end of January and the start of February, three teenagers in the city have lost their lives.

Mason Rist, 15, and Max Dixon, 16, died after being attacked in Knowle West on January 27. Darrian Williams,16, was attacked in Rawnsley Park in Easton on February 14 and later died.

There have been other incidents and all this comes after 2023, a year in which there was an incident involving a knife on average more than once a week.

Four lives were lost – Eddie King Muthemba Kinuthia, Paul Wagland, Mikey Roynon and Hubert ‘Isaac’ Brown.

Knife crime is a public health issue, worsened by cuts that have decimated vital services and youth provision, hitting some of the poorest communities hardest.

We know there is no magic way to make this problem go away, but we – the city’s media, community leaders, campaigners and more –  have joined forces with the following six-point plan:

* Set up a task force – We will develop a community-driven task force to meet and discuss the issue, how best to tackle it and how we can make a real difference with those in power.

* Getting knives off the street – We will work with the campaigners to raise awareness of initiatives designed to get knives off the streets.

* Social media – We will look at the Online Safety Bill and see if it goes far enough where it comes to harmful knife-related content on social media and how easy it is for children to see.

* Raise awareness – We will work together to raise the awareness of how knife crime is linked to poverty, education, employment, social exclusion and the collapse in youth services

* Lobby the government -We will cover the issue in the context of the General Election, using our findings from the taskforce and our reporting to lobby for change

* Hold power to account – We will scrutinise and hold Avon and Somerset Police and Bristol City Council to account on their plans and models to make Bristol safer

Of course, we don’t have all the answers. This campaign will be a moving thing that will develop as time passes. But the key message is, we must see change in the city.

The best way of giving ourselves a chance of making that happen is by working together.

If you would like to take part in this campaign, then we want to hear from you.

Leanne Reynolds, Knife crime campaigner
Reverend Dr Dawnecia Palmer
Abdul Malik, Chairperson/Trustee, Easton Jamia Masjid
Mohamed Makawi, Green Party Councillor for Cotham
Patrick Hart, CEO of BCfm and E-Com Media
Desmond Brown, Director, Growing Futures
Martin Bisp, Empire Fighting Chance
Nicky Edmondson, Chief Executive Officer for Excalibur Academies Trust
Bristol Rovers Community Trust
Neil Blundell, CEO, Cathedral Schools Trust
Neil Maggs, Bristol journalist and former community worker
Pete Gavan, Senior Editor, BristolLive
Kate Wilson, Executive Editor, BristolLive
Mark Taylor, Editor, BristolWorld
Charlie Watts, BristolWorld
Sean Morrison, Investigations Lead, Bristol Cable
Eliz Mizon, Strategy Lead, Bristol Cable