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Information for loved ones

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Advice for Relatives

If you suspect a relative or friend of carrying a knife, we are here to support you in having that initial conversation.

Ask yourself these questions and see if you can create an opportunity to talk to someone about knife crime:

  • Do you have a friend, colleague or family member who may be directly affected?
  • Can you talk to them about the risks of carrying a knife?

There is an increased anxiety when it comes to a conversation about knives, and most feel that they don’t know how to respond or even how to make sense out of the way their friends or family are acting.

Together, we can help by providing the right kind of advice and support that will better enable them to make changes.

What can you do?

Know the law

Before sitting down and talking, it’s important you do your research first and find out about the law. They could have questions about knives, so you might want to consider the following points:

  • It is illegal to carry any knife if there is intent to use it, even defensively, as a weapon. Even if the knife belongs to someone else, such as a friend or boyfriend.
  • Police can and will search someone if they believe they are carrying a knife. Stop and searches can also happen at school from teachers as they search for weapons.
  • Carrying a knife could mean being arrested. They could also be sent to court and holding a criminal record. This could lead to a prison sentence and have huge consequences not just to them, but their whole network of friends and family. This can affect the rest of someone’s life. Having a criminal record can prevent them getting a job, going to university or college or even travelling abroad to some countries.

For more information on the law click here


This can often be a difficult conversation and they may feel uncomfortable about talking about the subject.

Early intervention is better than waiting. It's far better for your loved one to think you're an idiot for over-reacting rather than letting them suffer in silence-or worse.

Be clear that it’s not a bad thing to discuss and make sure you let them know that they have a choice – they may think they don’t.
There may have been something in the news about knife crime that could allow you to open the conversation with and then you can introduce important points with them.

Try to break up the chat with these short points. By carrying a knife you: it doesn’t secure your own safety, it could be arming your attacker and increasing the risk of getting stabbed or injured, you are breaking the law.

Work together

You can get helpful advice from your friends and family. If you’re worried, they probably will be too and it’s always good to talk about these things.

By communicating with others, you can work together and keep a closer eye on your loved one’s behaviour.

If there was a particular worry that other parents share, you could contact their school/neighbourhood watch to raise awareness of the issue.
Ask other members of the family who could lend a hand in relaying the messages. They learn more from our actions and our words, but you must be ready to listen.

Spot the signs

Most young people decide they need to start carrying a knife because they feel threatened. There are tell-tell signs that may suggest they are feeling this way:

  • They don’t want to go in to school at all.
  • They’ve been a recent victim of theft/bullying/mugging.
  • They are hanging around with a different network of friends, who may be older and who you suspect are involved in gangs. Potential signs to look out for include graffiti on books and clothes, bandannas, scarves and emblems that are worn constantly, code words, handshakes and hand signals.

Here you remind them that walking away if confronted is the safest way of dealing with the situation.

Young people are starved of guidance, for good examples, role models, and morality.

Remember how important your friends and interests are to you when you are making decisions.

Tell your loved one that you trust their judgement and that you’ll stand by them. And be sure to set limits that are reasonable. You may be surprised how well your re-newed interest in their welfare is received.

Talk about your observations. If they’re willing to talk about how they feel, structure some time with them just to talk, or encourage them to talk with someone on a regular basis.

Get support

If you do have further concerns about someone you care about carrying a knife, there are many organisations available who can offer further help, support and advice.

You can contact your local council for a list of local groups and organisations who can offer advice, as well as information on setting up your own group.

There are lots of local and national organisations who will give one-to-one support. It’s ok to ask questions, seek advice or receive support. It’s easier to learn from talking and experiences, rather than textbooks.

Find more information and guides on our crime prevention advice page.

To speak to our Crime Prevention Unit about protecting your property and reducing your chances of becoming a victim of crime, email: crime.prevention@nottinghamshire.pnn.police.uk

Download the Home Office parental guidance on knives below.

Lives Not Knives