Virtual world helps to open eyes on knife crime

Virtual reality is helping young people in West Yorkshire to make the right choices when it comes to knife crime.

5th February 2024

Virtual reality is helping young people in West Yorkshire to make the right choices when it comes to knife crime.

Coinciding with the arrival of the Knife Angel at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, 70 partners countywide have been trained to deliver an immersive learning package.

The Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) has funded the use of the latest headset technology from Round Midnight ’Virtual Decisions’,which presents real life and evolving scenarios.

It prompts users to make decisions in response to issues of serious violence, which then determine their experience.

Director of the West Yorkshire VRP, Detective Chief Superintendent Lee Berry said:

“The virtual reality scenarios are built on the actual experiences of over 1200 young people and are a fantastic engagement tool.

“After using the VR headsets, those taking part talk through their decisions in supported classroom discussion.

“By educating young people in this way about the consequences of their actions, we can do more to change attitudes and behaviours around knives.”

West Yorkshire Police, Leeds District Commander, Chief Superintendent Steve Dodds, said:

“Capturing the attention of young people is absolutely vital to the ongoing partnership work that we are stepping up this month around the Knife Angel’s residency in the city.

“This innovative use of VR technology is an excellent way of engaging with young people on this challenging topic, and we hope it will support our wider work to reduce incidents and keep our young people and our communities safe.”

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council's executive member for resources with responsibility for Safer Leeds, said:

“Hosting the Knife Angel is a way to highlight the devastating impact of violence on individuals, families, and communities. It’s vital that we, during this time, also engage with young people, and we’re pleased to do so with these cutting-edge virtual reality sessions.

“The learning package allows those taking part to safely learn and have discussions about why young people decide to carry knives, and how serious the consequences can be. We are hopeful that the session will help them stop and think and that it will ultimately save lives.”