In 2014, the resident artist and sculptor at the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Alfie Bradley, began the Save a Life Surrender Your Knife project. Two years later and the Knife Angel Statue, created as a national monument against violence and aggression, is almost finished. It is a 27ft high sculpture, created with 100,000 knives surrendered and collected in nationwide amnesties in 2015/2016.
Police recorded offences involving the use of knives or sharp instruments increased by 9 per cent to 29,306 offences last year. The largest contributor to the total rise was West Midlands Police, accounting for 18 per cent of the increase. We have seen a general downward trend over the longer-term, but these weapons are often used in a number of terrible crimes, including attempted murder, robbery and assault with injury or intent to cause serious harm.
The British Ironwork Centre began the project to raise awareness of the issue of knife crime throughout the UK and supplied knife banks to the 43 police forces across the country, including Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. 37 police forces have now contributed, including West Mercia. The campaign has gone on to succeed its first pledge in providing sufficient amnesty/surrender bins and banks to accomplish the removal of the 100,000 street knives. The second pledge was to ensure that all 43 police constabularies donated weaponry from their areas. The Centre have still to persuade some forces to support the national campaign thoroughly with the contribution of their weapons. I look forward to seeing the time when knives have been taken off the streets in all constabularies.
I last saw the statue when the centre hosted the Roads Minister in May. Even seeing it half completed, it was horrific to consider just how many knives have been used to make this statue and seeing it in person is truly shocking. The Chairman of the BIC, Clive Knowles, Alfie Bradley and the 37 police forces should be congratulated for their work.
The Centre have declared that without ensuring that the monument has genuinely facilitated and inspired forces to initiate amnesties and surrenders, it will not release the monument to the country.
The Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square was built in 1841 and was meant to hold a statue of William IV but, due to insufficient funds, remained empty. It now hosts a series of commissioned works by internationally renowned artists.
The campaign, having reached 100,000 knives, has now pledged to continue until they reach a quarter of a million. Their next campaign will involve assisting UK forces in the surrender of firearms and creating a new monument.
The Knife Angel Statue is the only memorial ever created with the Home Office and so many police forces working together. It deserves to be on the Fourth Plinth. The statue was created to raise awareness of knife crime and there can be no better place for it than one of the most prominent spots in our capital city.