Somerset schools get creative to help prevent violence and criminal exploitation

Schools across Somerset are putting their creative talents online this month in an attempt to spread the word about the risks of knife crime and county lines drug networks.

Following a county-wide competition in which they created podcasts and videos designed to help others understand two of the county’s most pressing social problems, twelve finalists are going head-to-head in a battle for the public’s votes.

The competition, organised by educational experience experts Collaborate Digital, has been funded by the Safer Somerset Partnership’s Violence Reduction Unit and follows on from a series of school workshops in which students learned about the devastating effects of knife crime and so-called county lines networks.  The podcasts and videos were written by, starred in and produced by students from across the county with the support of officers from Avon & Somerset Police.

Lucy Macready, Public Health Specialist, Somerset County Council (Strategic lead Somerset VRU) said: “Compared with national and regional statistics, Somerset experiences lower levels of violence, and remains a safe place to live, however, the County remains vulnerable to the spread of violence and exploitation. This project is aligned to our strategy which includes education regarding violence prevention amongst children aged 10 to 17 years old and we are pleased to associate with Collaborate Digital for this project.”

Mark Matthews of Collaborate Digital said: “The Somerset students have produced the most amazingly creative set of podcasts and videos.  The way they’ve tackled these serious contemporary topics in an entertaining and informative way has been extremely impressive.”

Somerset VRU Sergeant Ben Saville said: “This project with Collaborate Digital is just one of the ways that we are working with our partners to engage with young people to better understand the issues which affect them. We will never police our way out of knife crime and just telling young people not to carry knives will fall on deaf ears if we don’t listen to what they are telling us about their fears and concerns around this issue.

“Innovative projects like this, which use young people’s creativity and insight, are a positive step towards better engagement between young people, us in the police, and other organisations who are taking a collective, joined up approach to keeping young people safe.”

The public vote is open from Thursday 5th until Monday 16th November at where the finalists can be seen and heard.