Leeds United Football Club supports campaign to tackle knife crime (26 Sep 2019)

A ground-breaking partnership between West Yorkshire Police and Leeds United Football Club to help tackle knife crime is continuing after the club showed its support on Saturday's game.

The club devoted an entire page of the match-day programme for the match against Derby to its support to the campaign to tackle knife crime.

The Force's mobile van with a big screen was also outside the ground prior to kick off displaying #knifefree messages and in the week leading up to the match, West Yorkshire officers delivered a workshop around the topic of knife crime to youngsters taking part in a Premier League Kicks session with the club's Foundation.

The support came as the Force took part in Operation Sceptre - a national week of action to tackle and raise awareness of knife crime. It was also supported by the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson.

Detective Superintendent Chris Gibson is West Yorkshire Police's lead on Serious and Violent Crime. He said:

"I can't thank the club enough for the work they did with us and the continued support they are showing.

"By working with the club we can get our vital messages out to people about the potentially devastating consequences of knife crime. The club is a powerful voice and ally in the community and can reach more people than we could ever hope to do so.

"We wanted to do something a little bit different to mark Operation Sceptre and our work with the club meant we were able to do that.

"We have more work planned with Leeds United going forward."

Leeds United TV marked the partnership by showing videos filmed with Det Supt Gibson and the Foundation.

As well as the work with the football club, West Yorkshire Police marked Operation Sceptre with test purchase operations, knife sweeps and arrest enquiries.

A short caption video has been released and the work is all part of the Force's dedicated operation to tackle serious and violent crime. Over 900 arrests have been made since April as part of Operation Jemlock and more than 80 weapons seized.

Michael Kinsey, Operations Executive for the Leeds United Foundation:

"It's been great working so closely with West Yorkshire Police on this #knifefree campaign over the last week, it's such an important topic to tackle in our city and showing a united front between the two parties will hopefully have helped to make people take on board the risks and raise awareness around the subject.

"Officers delivered a really crucial workshop with some of the children the Foundation work with as part of the Premier League Kicks programme and I think being able to show them how dangerous carrying a knife can be and how other young people have been able to turn their life around was really impactful."

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said: "It's great to see Leeds United working with West Yorkshire Police to help tackle these issues which can have such a devastating impact on individuals and local communities.

"It is ultimately only through early intervention and prevention work through these type of initiatives that we will be able to most effectively deal with the scourge of knife and violent crime.

"Beyond this intensive week of action there is a host of work on-going in West Yorkshire and in particular my office is leading on the creation of a dedicated Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) for West Yorkshire. The VRU is a multi-agency approach, bringing together key partners and the community to tackle violent crime and its underlying causes. They will be responsible for identifying the drivers of serious violence locally and develop a coordinated and targeted response to tackle them in the areas that need it most."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019