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Offensive Weapons

Volume 499: debated on Wednesday 11 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of knife amnesties in Northern Ireland: (298996)

(2) how many knives were handed in during the three most recent knife amnesties in Northern Ireland;

(3) what work his Department has undertaken together with the Department for Education in Northern Ireland on education of young people in relation to knife crime.

Two knife amnesties were held in 2006 resulting in over 1,500 potentially lethal weapons being disposed of. Based on feedback from the agencies involved, and given the number of weapons disposed of, my assessment is that the amnesties have been very effective. In the period since I have focused on the development of an educational and preventative strategy including a knife awareness campaign, delivered through schools, on the dangers of carrying knives. In April along with the Department of Education, PSNI and Crimestoppers we delivered a series of drama workshops called 'Choices'. 54 schools, involving around 4,000 pupils took part and were able to use a knife crime information pack as part of the citizenship curriculum. A second programme is running in the week commencing 9 November aimed at year 12 pupils (15 to 16 years of age).