Star Paul’s knife appeal

Bellshill Academy pupils and other delegates at the conference in Strathclyde Park.
Bellshill Academy pupils and other delegates at the conference in Strathclyde Park.

BAFTA-award winning actor Paul Brannigan has urged Lanarkshire youngsters to avoid knife culture and a life of crime.

The star of hit Scottish movie The Angels’ Share was addressing a conference at Strathclyde Park’s Alona Hotel.

The newly-formed Lanarkshire No Knives, Better Lives steering group is part of a national campaign to cut down on knife crime.

Glaswegian Mr Brannigan told the audience, which included pupils from Bellshill Academy, about his troubled upbringing and how violent crime was part of his everyday life, and how he has worked to turn his life around.

Representatives of the police and many other agencies joined the pupils for the conference.

There were presentations from each organisation on the work they do to prevent and deter the carrying of knives by young people.

Inspector Andy Thomson, from Lanarkshire’s Safer Communities Unit, spoke about the rationale behind forming the steering group and the work being carried out by police to reduce incidents involving knives.

He said: “There is a perception by some young people that carrying a knife will protect them or make them look good, but it could easily cost them their own life if it is used against them.

“The audience were shown different ways those involved in the steering group use to convey those dangers.

“However, while our work has been hugely successful, we still seized more than 700 weapons from people in Lanarkshire this year alone.”

Lorna Shearer, of NHS Lanarkshire, said: “The event was to raise awareness of the possible life-changing consequences when you carry a knife, not only the potential legal implications, but also the significant impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and the wider population. The relevance to mental health is particularly significant, corresponding with the National Suicide Prevention Campaign.”

Liz Fergus, of North Lanarkshire Council, added: “Although the number of young people involved in knife crime continues to fall, we will continue to engage with young people and provide diversionary activities that contribute to community safety.”