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School children take to the airwaves in radio competition to halt knife crime
The Grange Academy in Kempston has been crowned winner of a countywide Bedfordshire Police knife crime competition.

The school was one of 20 that took part in a series of knife crime workshops run by Collaborate Digital and funded by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway. Around 200 pupils were invited to take part in the workshops, which aimed to educate young people about the dangers of carrying a knife by asking them to script and record a radio advert aimed at other young people.

A special awards ceremony was held to announce the winners at Police Headquarters on Wednesday (8 March).

The Grange Academy won the Bedfordshire Police Student Challenge Award 2018, after judges praised their ‘powerful and emotional’ advert, saying “…[the pupils] composed an informative script which was delivered in a moving and very memorable way.”

Philippa Coles, English lead from The Grange Academy said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won. We competed against a number of schools and to win was an incredible boost to the confidence and self-esteem of our pupils. The advert they produced was amazing and I thought it showed a real emotional depth. The whole school is really proud them.”

The school was presented by Chief Constable Jon Boutcher and PCC Holloway, along with three other winning schools.

PCC Holloway said: “I was absolutely delighted to fund this timely and quite exceptional project. Across policing we are experiencing an unprecedented period in terms of a rise in young people carrying knives. The tragedy is that so many of them do so because they believe it gives a measure of protection from others who are similarly armed. The young people involved in the radio project heard loudly and clearly that almost half the serious knife crimes, for which data is available in the Metropolitan Police area, were committed using just such knives against them.

“I’m a former broadcaster and radio presenter, so I’m in a position to know just how professional and impactful the ads produced for this competition genuinely are. I made sure I heard them for the first time at the presentation event and was beyond impressed.

“The winning ad will now be broadcast in this county as a genuine radio advertisement and I have had interest already from the Mayor’s office in London in hearing about it and this whole competition. It’s been so outstandingly successful that I intend to run something similar every year from now on, while I’m in this role."

Chief Constable Boutcher added: “Every time a knife is used, there is potential for two lives to be changed forever – both that of the victim and the person who is carrying the knife. Working with young people on projects like this is essential, and the messages in each of the winning adverts were incredibly powerful. I’d like to congratulate all four of the winners, but also praise all of the schools and the pupils who took part in the workshops for their enthusiasm towards the project.”

The radio adverts were judged by a panel consisting of police officers, industry experts, young people and Channitta Lendore, the sister of murdered Isaac Stone who was stabbed to death in Bedford in 2014.

As well as being on the judging panel, Channitta attended the awards ceremony with her brother Tyrone and praised the work of the schools. She said: “Listening to what the pupils did was amazing. They have done really well and I hope they will make a big impact. I want to encourage them to spread their messages about knife crime to as many people as they can, as it might end up saving someone’s life.”

Denbigh High School won the People’s Most Listened To Award. The adverts by the 15 initial finalists were uploaded to YouTube so they could be viewed by friends, families and fellow students. Almost 3,000 people listened to Denbigh High School’s advert in the last few weeks.

Biddenham International School were winners of the Creativity Award, with the judges remarking how impressed they were with the school’s ‘Don’t take a stab in the dark’ tagline which featured in the advert.

A group of students from Bedford College were also presented with an award for their radio advert, with judges praising the student’s clear understanding of the impact of knife crime, saying; “the students delivered a strong message including  using the phrase ‘Don’t cut a hole in your life’ which was very impactful.”