The 27-foot ‘Knife Angel’ made from 100,000 weapons has arrived in Birmingham
A huge 27-foot sculpture, made from 100,000 confiscated knives, was welcomed to Birmingham earlier today as the city comes together to tackle knife crime.
Birmingham City Council, working with the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, has brought the Knife Angel to Victoria Square, where it will stand for four weeks as a physical reminder of the effects of violence and aggression.
The iconic sculpture – commissioned by the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire and created by artist Alfie Bradley – will be on display in the city centre until 5 June 2019.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, and Cllr John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities, were both keen to see the Knife Angel visit the city.
The statue – which has previously visited Coventry, Hull and Liverpool – arrived in Birmingham after the latest Government figures revealed knife crime in the West Midlands rose by 17 per cent year-on-year between 2017 and 2018.
Birmingham City Council is working with partners to deliver a programme of activity – which includes school visits, working with community groups and Youth Service activities – to ensure the Knife Angel’s message has a lasting impact.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “Ten Birmingham lives – five of them teenagers – have been brutally lost as a result of knife crime in the last 12 months. That’s ten families left devastated by the loss of a loved one and ten communities left mourning and in fear.
“The tragic truth is that if we don’t address this national crisis, people will continue to die and I hope that as we host the Knife Angel over the next four weeks, we can step up our collective efforts here in Birmingham.
“We all have a part to play in tackling knife crime: Government, councils, the police, communities, schools and individuals. Together we have to understand what is driving this crisis and we must understand and address why young people are choosing to carry knives.”
David Jamieson, Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, said: “Knife crime is a national emergency. In the West Midlands, knife crime has more than doubled since 2012. The tragic loss of life from knife crime has been felt in Birmingham in particular.
“The Knife Angel is a reminder of the devastating impact of knife crime has of families and communities.
“To tackle violent crime we all need to work together. This is not an issue that the police can simply arrest their way out of. It requires preventative work to divert young people away from crime, but also requires us to invest in opportunities to help all young people fulfil their potential.
“Wherever the knife angel has visited, it has been a calling point for action. It has brought people together and renewed people’s commitment to improving things for young people. I hope the knife angel visiting Birmingham will have a similar impact.”
After the Home Office granted the British Ironwork Centre permission to collect weapons from knife bins across the country, it took four years to build the Knife Angel as a response to rising reports of knife crime, and lives being lost to knives.
Clive Knowles, Chair of the British Ironwork Centre, said: “Liverpool, Hull, Coventry and now Birmingham have welcomed the Knife Angel to their cities. I really hope that other towns and cities will take up the mantle to tackle this national blight.”
The Knife Angel was brought to Birmingham with the support of the British Ironwork Centre and the following partners: Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Absolute Services, Aughton Automation, Cadent, CMC, Transport for West Midlands, West Midlands Metro.
What is The Knife Angel?
The Knife Angel has been dubbed ‘the national monument against violence and aggression’.
In 2014, the British Ironwork Centre began a new campaign, which would not only highlight a national issue, but tackle it through their passion for art.
Under the banner ‘Save a life, surrender your knife’, the Centre sought permission from the Home Office to work with all 43 UK police forces to retrieve knives from the streets of the UK, by providing knife banks to educate and raise awareness of the horrors of knife crime.
Relatives of those killed because of knife crime were invited to engrave the confiscated blades with names and messages for their loved ones. The weapons were transformed into a giant 27 foot sculpture called the Knife Angel.
Clive Knowles, Chairman of the British Ironwork Centre, has led on the construction and operation, to ensure the Knife Angel fulfils its purpose and undertakes a full UK tour. He hopes that along with Birmingham, Coventry, Hull and Liverpool, other towns and cities across the nation will host the symbolic angel and spread its message.
Knife Angel FACTS:
- 4 years in the making
- 27 feet tall
- Comprised of 100,000 weapons removed from UK streets
- Created by artist Alfie Bradley at the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire
- On display in Birmingham as part of a UK tour, having previously been seen in Coventry, Hull and Liverpool.
- On display until 5 June
- The Knife Angel will stand in Victoria Square, as a representation of the city’s unified determination to address knife crime and, in doing so, cement Birmingham’s reputation as a city of peace and reconciliation.
Knife crime is not an issue unique to Birmingham – it’s affecting people’s lives across the country. This is an important time for the city as it engages in this national conversation, and to bring about change before it’s too late.
Organisations across the city have come together in a multi-agency approach educating people on the dangers of knife crime through activities and events on the topic, while the Knife Angel is in Birmingham.
The Knife Angel was brought to Birmingham with the support of the British Ironwork Centre and Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Absolute Services, Aughton Automation, Cadent, CMC, Transport for West Midlands and West Midlands Metro.
Where people can get help:
Birmingham Children’s Trust: If you have concerns about the safety and/or welfare of a child or young person, call the Children’s Advice & Support Service (CASS) on 0121 303 1888 (Office hours: Mon-Thurs 8.45am to 5.15pm; Fri 8.45am-4.15pm)
Outside office hours contact the Emergency Duty Team on 0121 675 4806
In an emergency where a child’s safety is at immediate risk of significant harm, contact West Midlands Police on 999.
Family Lives (Parentline Plus): National charity that works for and with parents, giving advice on all aspects of parenting. Their free helpline is open Mon-Fri: 9am-9pm, Sat-Sun: 10am-3pm – 0808 800 2222
Victim Support: National charity can help you and your child if they have been a victim of knife crime. Supportline is free and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week – 08 08 16 89 111
The Knife Angel can be seen in Victoria Square until 5 June 2019.