Top 5 Things we have learned in 10 Years of NKBL

This year marks 10 years since the then Scottish government Cabinet secretary for Justice Sectary, Kenny MacAskill, launched No Knives Better Lives (NKBL) in March 2009.

This year marks 10 years since the then Scottish government Cabinet secretary for Justice Sectary, Kenny MacAskill, launched No Knives Better Lives (NKBL) in March 2009. NKBL is the Scottish governments approach to tackling knife crime. Working in partnership with YouthLink Scotland; the national agency for youth work.

NKBL has evolved a lot in 10 years. From working in one Local Authority to now working with all 32 local authorities across Scotland, NKBL is truly a national approach to tackling knife crime. We now have a peer education programme available to schools across the whole of Scotland, as well as a national training programme for partners.

Over the past ten years, we have seen a shift in attitude amongst young people in Scotland – there has been a 64% reduction in young people carrying an offensive weapon. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  1. A public health approach is having a positive impact –NKBL treats violence as a disease that can be cured. We have taken a preventative rather than reactive approach to knife crime. That means we try to reach young people as early as possible to teach them the true cost of carrying a knife- prevention and early intervention.
  2. Youth work needs to be part of the approach. We need to include young people to support them to achieve their full potential. It is critical that young people understand risk-taking behaviours and develop the capacity to make reasoned decisions that reduce the risk to themselves and others. In addition, that they are consulted and involved in developing some of our messaging so we know we are getting it right.
  3. Partnership working is key– we can’t do this alone. We do not have the established trusted relationships with young people in every area across Scotland, so we work with those who do. We support and train a variety of partners including Police, youth workers, teachers, social workers, justice teams and some NHS staff to work with young people in a participatory and empowering way to deliver the key messages of NKBL.
  4. Do not get complacent. Prevention work does not stop when the stats are at all-time lows. One stabbing, is one too many. Prevention isn’t a response to a crisis. The devastating impact of just one incident can impact the lives of a whole community and generations of families.
  5. Every area is unique and we need to be flexible and bespoke with the areas and partners we work with. Our model has evolved to reflect this. We started with multi partner steering groups in each area, to a flexible open approach that works with anyone who needs the support and all parts of our programmes are accessible.

The great news is these learnings have helped us shape what we see as another year of great projects for NKBL in 2019-20.  We will continue to offer peer education, a touring schools theatre production, free partner training and much more.

Our next NKBL Network event for partners to attend is on 26th June 2019 in Stirling. If you are interested you can get all the details and book your ticketon Eventbrite.

Orielle Taylor
NKBL Delivery Team.

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