A young stabbing victim from Nottinghamshire was operated on a staggering 36 times, a leading surgeon has revealed as he warns of the dangers of carrying knives.
The grim realities of knife crime have been laid bare by Nottingham major trauma surgeon Adam Brooks in a new video, as he urges young people not to carry knives.
Mr Brooks is head of the East Midlands Major Trauma Centre based at the Queen’s Medical Centre.
In the candid video, released as Nottinghamshire Police supports a national drive on knife crime, he recalls one young knife crime victim having 36 operations in their battle for survival while others have died from their wounds.
He said: “I think it’s really important to be frank. People die from knife wounds on a daily basis across the whole country despite all the excellence that major trauma centres like ours provide.
“Knives can kill people. We see that and we work very hard to get people to live through the trauma of knife violence and the physical and psychological impacts associated with it.
“There’s no such thing as a safe place to stab someone. Somebody might think it’s just a flesh wound but if you are stabbed in the wrong part of your body, and that’s one of a dozen different places, you’ve got a very good chance of dying.
“If you get hit somewhere else you may need major surgery, need to stay in hospital for weeks or months, and then there are the long-term consequences of wounds which are often life-changing.
“It’s not been unusual for us to see very young teenagers who have been involved in knife violence. Some have been here for their third time and their third major abdominal surgery after a stabbing incident.
“Looking at it from the other side, if you are involved in knife crime you could end up in prison for a significant proportion of your life.”
Mr Brooks’ plea for young people not to carry knives comes as Nottinghamshire Police again stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its communities and partners this week in supporting the national Operation Sceptre campaign to tackle knife crime.
Launching tomorrow (Monday 26 April 2021), Operation Sceptre is just a snapshot of the ongoing year-round work being carried out to combat knife crime in Nottinghamshire by bringing together all aspects of education, engagement and enforcement.
The force’s activity will include community weapons sweeps, patrols in knife crime hot-spot areas and proactive operations.
Nottinghamshire Police’s dedicated and proactive knife crime and Operation Reacher teams will also be deployed in the city and county and specialist schools and early intervention officers will be continuing their work by engaging and working with children, encouraging young people to live positive knife-free lives.
Mr Brooks added: “The most important advice I can give is please don’t carry or use a knife. The worst experience in my career is talking to families and telling them that their child or their brother has not survived. That’s something I never want to do again.
“We work extremely hard to achieve the best possible outcome for people but knife crime does takes its toll on our staff, especially if we’re not successful in resuscitating a victim of knife violence and getting them through it.
“I think in some cases knife crime stems from young people falling into the wrong groups and it becoming a norm for them to carry a knife for protection.
“If you’re carrying a knife for protection then you’re either going to use it or it’s going to be used on you and that’s why we’re working so hard to tackle the issue.
“Young people involved in knife violence don’t tend to open up to someone like me. That’s why we have youth workers here at the trauma centre, through our association with Redthread, who are supporting and working with those individuals.”
The latest official figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that knife crime has continued to significantly fall in Nottinghamshire.
Nottinghamshire’s sustained reduction outstrips both the national and regional figures and it is hoped the force’s recruitment of additional officers will drive offences down even further.
Nottinghamshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Gerard Milano said: “While knife crime has continued to fall in Nottinghamshire we will never be complacent and we’re still working relentlessly all year round to drive down violent crime even further and keep people safe.
“Any incident is one too many. Each and every knife that we’re able to remove from circulation represents a potential to save lives.
“As part of Operation Sceptre we will not only be targeting offenders and bringing them to justice but we will also be continuing our ongoing educational work with young people, raising awareness of the dangers and consequences of knife crime and encouraging them to live positive knife-free lives.
“We all need to work together to combat knife crime and we’re urging anyone who has any information about people going out with a weapon to come forward. Sharing that information with police will help us to keep our communities safe.”
The significant fall in offences of violence is also reflective of the success of Nottinghamshire’s enterprising Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).
Violence Reduction Units bring together organisations across local communities to tackle violent crime and address its underlying causes. These units also help fund vital local projects that do positive preventative work with children and young people.
Nottinghamshire’s VRU continues to play an integral part in tackling and reducing knife crime and violence by working hard to tackle the underlying causes of violent crime and providing specialist intervention and support, helping to turn vulnerable people away from crime and putting them on the road to a safer and positive future.
The VRU also supports a wealth of mentorship projects which develop young people’s confidence, skills and motivation to help them resolve the problems known to escalate their risk of engaging in violence.
Just one of its many initiatives is the flagship custody mentoring scheme U-Turn, delivered by The Inspire & Achieve Foundation (IAF), which helps young people aged 16 to 26 who have been arrested for various offences to move away from crime and make a fresh start.
Another initiative is Base 21’s Evolution Project which provides therapeutic counselling, including next day access to drop-in counselling, to young people affected by serious violence in recognition that adverse childhood experiences increase the risks of harm in adult life.
Dave Wakelin, Director of Nottinghamshire’s VRU, said: “We know first-hand from our work with bereaved families and communities the devastation and pain knife crime inflicts.
“It is vital young people understand the reality too before making decisions that could cost them their own lives and the lives of others.
“This is why we continue to invest in poignant and hard-hitting campaigns in the language and medium young people relate to.
“Operation Sceptre highlights the work underway all year round by the VRU and its partners to educate young people to make safer choices.
“We are grateful to Adam Brooks for sharing his insight into the physical and psychological effects of violence as part of our HashtagNG campaign and will continue to explore opportunities to engage young people at risk of crime and violence to change lives in the future.”
Chief Inspector Kathryn Craner, knife crime lead for Nottinghamshire Police, added: “Operation Sceptre is just an extension of the huge amount of work we are continuing to do day in and day out in targeting criminals who carry knives and removing dangerous weapons from our streets.
“Just one knife offence can have devastating impacts on so many people. That’s why we are so determined, working closely with our partners and communities, to proactively target knife crime offenders, exploit opportunities to stop young people carrying knives and take the necessary action in order to make a difference to our communities.”
The video interview with Mr Brooks was filmed as part of the VRU’s award-winning HashtagNG campaign.
The campaign has had a reach of over 180,000 young people in the city and county who have been signposted to guidance and advice as well as interventions to reduce serious violence.
Mr Brooks’ full interview will feature in a documentary later this year commissioned by the VRU.
The documentary, due for release this summer, will be focussed on serious violence in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and the community response as part of the HashtagNG campaign by Powell and Barnes media.