An Garda Síochána knife crime awareness programme comes to Cork: ‘How Big Do You Feel?’ rolls out in Mayfield Community School
Mayfield Community School in Cork was today the setting for the third meeting of An Garda Síochána’s knife crime awareness programme, ‘How Big Do You Feel?’, which will run in schools all over the country between now and the end of the year. This public information campaign is directed at informing and educating young people of the dangers of carrying knives and at reducing the number of instances of knife crime in Ireland. The campaign also exposes young people to the positive influence and life stories of local sports stars and role models.
Ex-hurling star, Sean McGrath, who is a past pupil of Mayfield, was interviewed this morning at the school by the sports editor of Red FM, Colm O’Sullivan. In addition, two Community Gardaí working in the area, Garda Brian McCarthy and Garda Pat Costello, spoke to fourth and fifth year students about the dangers of carrying knives.
Speaking about the campaign, the Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said:
“This is one element of An Garda Síochána’s ongoing awareness raising activity directed at preventing crime and reducing the kind of anti-social behaviour which affects communities. It will continue to roll out throughout the country and it includes a series of workshops with school children, meetings led by community gardaí, and a number of online elements.”
The campaign’s online supports can be seen at www.howbigdoyoufeel.ie, at www.bebo.com/howbigdoyoufeel and on Twitter @howbigdoyoufeel. There is also a Facebook page.
A fact leaflet will be distributed through Garda stations nationwide and a simple supporting website has been developed – www.knifefacts.ie - which outlines facts about knife crime.
The Commissioner said that An Garda Síochána is committed to taking practical and effective steps to prevent crime, secure safe communities, by deploying Gardai to carry out their duties on a daily basis in our communities.
“This initiative builds on previous events such as Community Safety Week and puts centre stage one of our most important resources – our community gardai. Recently I launched a new National Model of Community Policing and this campaign helps to demonstrate in a real way how community policing can impact on crime levels by building relationships with young people, raising awareness and offering them support.”
Referring to knife crime in Ireland, the Commissioner commented:
“While we have been fortunate not to experience sustained high levels of knife deaths, such as those witnessed in other countries, there has nonetheless been a series of high profile incidents which give rise to concern. In addition, we have seen evidence of increased knife carrying in the context of crimes such as assault.”
Speaking at the meeting in Mayfield, Sergeant Trevor Laffan of Anglesea Street Garda Station, Cork, said:
“We want to intervene early with young people and bring home to them the dangers of deciding to carry a knife, not least of which is the risk that it will be used on themselves. The message is simple: carrying a knife is against the law and if you are caught you will be charged and brought to court. Carrying a knife greatly increases your chances of being seriously injured or killed in a fight.”
Note for Editors:
The campaign focuses on education and crime prevention and An Garda Síochána will target young people in a number of ways, including:
- 12 roadshow meetings in locations throughout the country
- Further schools meetings in all parts of the country, led by Community Gardaí
- Editorial campaigns in national, regional and local media to coincide with the rollout of a roadshow meeting in that area.
- A unique website aimed at communicating with young people – www.howbigdoyoufeel.ie.
- A presence on social networking websites including Bebo, Facebook and Twitter to encourage young people to engage with An Garda Síochána and to communicate the dangers of carrying knives.
- Videos encouraging young people to visit the campaign site and offer their views.
- Information leaflets aimed at young people and their parents.
- Input into youth diversion programmes that reach at-risk young people.
- A fact leaflet distributed through Garda stations and a simple supporting website that outlines facts on knife crime – www.knifefacts.ie
The campaign was officially launched in February 2009 by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern TD. Speaking at the launch, which took place in Government Buildings in Dublin, he said:
"The Garda Commissioner has made a number of recommendations to me: that the penalties for possessing a knife in a public place be increased; that an extended power of search without warrant be created in circumstances where a member of An Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds to suspect a person is carrying any article for an unlawful purpose; and for consideration of a prohibition in relation to swords. I am now bringing forward amendments to the legislation in the forthcoming Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. Drafting of the Bill is almost completed and the Government have agreed to treat it as a priority measure for this Dáil session."
Garda Press Office
12th March 2009