A public health approach

NKBL and our national partners are committed to identifying and intervening in different aspects of violence, centering around a public health approach.

We treat violence like an infectious disease and encourage policy makers to search for a cure using scientific evidence to identify what causes violence and find interventions that work to prevent it spreading.

The 4 Rs of prevention

Our approach to prevention is informed by the principles and values of youth work and a public health approach to violence prevention.

Alongside looking at what we don’t want young people to do and how to stop them doing it, we focus on positive behaviours and how we help young people to understand and navigate risk, and make good life choices.

We believe effective knife carrying education and prevention should be informed by the 4R’s of prevention.



Young people are aware that knife carrying is not common—protection is a common reason given for knife carrying.

Risks and consequences

Risks and consequences

Young people are aware of the very serious legal and personal risks and consequences of carrying a knife or any offensive weapon. 

Young people often think that carrying a knife offers them protection when in fact it puts them more at risk. They are usually unaware of the legal consequences of carrying a knife and the impact that knife crime can have on individuals, families and communities.



Young people are more aware of the influences, fears and pressures that can lead to the decision to carry a knife and how these can be managed or avoided.



Young people are aware of the importance of telling someone if they know someone else is carrying a knife—this is an important aspect of prevention work and is relevant to all young people.

Our national partners

The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit

Supported by the Scottish Government, the SVRU is a national centre of expertise on violence which adopts a public health approach—treating violence as an infection which can be prevented and cured. 

The SVRU aims to reduce violent crime and behaviour by working with partner agencies to achieve long-term societal and attitudinal change. By focusing on enforcement, they aim to contain and manage individuals who carry weapons or who are involved in violent behaviour.

Medics Against Violence

Set up by three surgeons who faced the devastating consequences of violence every day, MAV delivers training to professionals and students to spot the signs of domestic abuse and refer people to support services. 

MAV also works to prevent violence through education and deliver a secondary school programme. MAV volunteers, who are all NHS professionals, go into classrooms to speak directly to young people about how to avoid violent situations and stay safe.

Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme

Developed by the SVRU and now led by Education Scotland, this programme promotes positive relationships through health and wellbeing for young people in schools across Scotland. 

MVP Scotland is a bystander programme that aims to empower young people to safely challenge and speak out against gender-based violence, including bullying, abusive and violent behaviour, as well as the negative attitudes and assumptions which underpin this behaviour.

Navigators Programme

This programme aims to interrupt violence by identifying and supporting people within the Emergency Department (ED) or hospital ward at the point and time of need. 

It started at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in December 2015 and was rolled out further to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in 2017. And then to Queen Elizabeth hospital in Glasgow and Cross House Hospital in the later part of 2018.

Police Scotland Youth Volunteers

This initiative seeks to deepen police engagement with young people, breaking down barriers with traditionally difficult to engage communities and promoting positive role models. 

PSYV provides young people aged 13-18 with the opportunity to gain confidence and develop leadership skills by working with Police Scotland and volunteering in their local community.



Fearless provides non-judgemental information and advice about crime and criminality. And allows individuals to report crimes 100% anonymously online.

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