UK authorities, appalled by mounting incidents of knife crime by teenagers, are turning to the school students themselves for help. They are being enrolled in a scheme by a charity to report on their fellow students, albeit confidentially.
Teenagers in 160 secondary schools and colleges in some of Britain's worst knife crime areas would text message when the spot anyone with a knife in their midst and the message will be forwarded to the police, anonymously.
AdvertisementHannah Daws from Crimestoppers said: "All we ask for is five pieces of information - the suspect's name, nickname, school, class year, and address."
The scheme, which was initially piloted in three schools in Tower Hamlets, East London, will start in schools across fifteen London boroughs in September and if it is successful, will go nationwide next year.
Sally Knox, the mother of 18-year-old Robert Knox who was stabbed to death outside a bar in May, said the idea could help solve the country's knife crime.
She said: "Anything that enables children to get in touch with the police anonymously is a fantastic idea. Using text makes it even better."
Telecommunication systems are already being used by schools across the country to report instances of bullying by text message. Text Someone is a system being used by 200 schools in Britain which allows children to report bullying, hate crime and knives to their teachers, reports Telegraph newspaper.
A similar system is being piloted by police in 100 schools across Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Greater London. The School Help and Advice Reporting Page (SHARP) is a website where pupils can directly contact a police officer from any device that can send an email, including most mobile phones or even an Xbox.
In a six month trail SHARP received over 60,000 hits from children who needed help. Creator Paul Maloney, 27, said the system worked so well because, like the Crimestoppers scheme, it was "totally faceless".
He said: "There's a huge stigma associated with being a grass or a snitch, so if they can report things anonymously schools are more likely to hear about these problems.
"These children are part of the digital revolution - everything they do is on the internet or using their phones, it is part and parcel of these kids' lives now. It made sense to give them this chance to speak out and give them a voice."