Media encouraged to use less graphic images of knife crime

Written by Jenni Davidson on 12 March 2019 in News

No Knives Better Lives (NKBL) has launched a new collection of stock photos with the aim of reducing the use of graphic images of knife crime

One of the new images: Young offender - No Knives Better Lives campaign

The media is being encouraged to change how it depicts knife crime in a bid to de-sensationalise coverage of the issue.

Knife crime prevention programme No Knives Better Lives (NKBL) has launched a new collection of stock photos for press use with the aim of reducing the use of graphic images and instead showing the consequences of crime.

The images were co-designed with young people with experience of offending during a project named ‘Taking Stock’.

The young people felt images often used to portray knife crime were unrealistic and likely to scare, with the only way to prevent knife carrying being to show young people the real consequence – getting caught.

The young people’s ideas were turned into a series of 16 photographs by photographer Becky Duncan, a professionally trained photographer specialising in social documentary for the third sector.

To stand alongside the images, NKBL has also produced a guide to reporting on knife crime for journalists.

It explains the NKBL prevention approach, as well as ideas to incorporate these into their reporting.

The project was inspired by successful third sector media campaigns like ‘One Thousand Words’ by Zero Tolerance and Scottish Women’s Aid.

Emily Beever, national co-ordinator for NKBL at YouthLink Scotland, said: “In the early days of NKBL, we used many images of knives and the consequences of knife crime.

“Over the past 10 years, the total number of crimes involving offensive weapons has reduced by 64 per cent and we’ve learnt that the ‘fear factor’ might inadvertently increase the risk of young people carrying a knife.

“We firmly believe the media can strengthen prevention work.

“By producing images that do not perpetuate stereotypes and carry the prevention messages of NKBL, we hope the media will begin to play a role in stopping knife crime in Scotland.”

Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, commented: “It’s a big year for No Knives Better Lives as they celebrate their 10th anniversary and the Scottish Government is proud to have supported them over that period.

“Young people are at the heart of what NKBL do and none more so than their ‘Taking Stock’ project, which was co-designed by young people who have been affected by knife crime.

“Over the past year we have also seen the ‘Balisong’ play performed in every local authority across Scotland and I was moved by its powerful, hard-hitting message.

“We have seen a large decrease in crimes involving offensive weapons over the past 10 years and these images have an important part to play in further reducing knife crime and weapons carrying among young people.”

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