Hard-hitting display on impact of knives and violent crime opens at Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds

A hard-hitting exhibition on the impact of violent crime has opened at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 5:28 pm

‘At the Sharp End: Tackling Violent Crime Together in West Yorkshire’ uses objects, evidence and first-hand accounts to highlight both the effects of violent crime and the ongoing work to tackle it in the county.

The exhibition has been developed in partnership with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which brings together specialists across health, police, education, youth justice, prisons, probation and community groups to help cut violent crime.

It will run at the Royal Armouries for six months and more than 100,000 visitors are predicted to see the display.

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Anna Ward, museum interpretation manager at the Royal Armouries, looks at one of the displays in the At the Sharp End exhibition. Picture: Simon Hulme

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Young people from across the region have taken part in a creative art competition on the subject of violence and how it affects them, with the winning pieces exhibited within the display.

Zainab Naeem, from Leeds, was awarded first place for her artwork which uses images of dominoes to reflect the consequences of violence on individuals and communities.

Ania Groborz-Manu, 14, and 12-year-old Junior Crosby were runners up with their high standard submissions. All their entries offer unique perspectives to deliver important messages of safety to visitors.

Zainab, 16, said: "With my piece I wanted to portray the impact of violence on not only the victims themselves but the knock-on-effect on their friends, families and whole communities, as I believe the large-scale impact and loss is often overlooked when discussing the severity of crime and violence.

“The dominoes are symbolic of the many lives affected and the cyclical sadness and loss from just one action.

"I decided to carry out some research and found out names of those who have passed away [and] are victims of serious violence to honour them by including their names on my drawing.”

The exhibition also features the results of Operation Jemlock, a West Yorkshire police operation that has made more than 6,000 arrests and confiscated over a thousand weapons over the last two and half years.

Superintendent Damon Solley, who leads the operation, has told the Yorkshire Evening Post that everyone must act to keep weapons off our streets - from blades stolen from kitchens or purchased in hardware stores, to sinister ‘zombie’ and ‘rambo’ knives imported from abroad.

Dr Edward Impey, director general and Master of the Armouries, added: "The Royal Armouries is committed to showing how human experiences have been, and continue to be, shaped by arms and armour.

"This is not a purely historical matter and is deeply relevant today as our towns and cities continue to suffer the impacts of violent crime.

“This new display created in collaboration with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit and featuring artwork from talented young people will demonstrate how violent crime is being tackled by communities and authorities working together.”

The West Yorkshire VRU, funded by the Home Office and run by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, takes a public-health led approach to tackle the underlying causes of violent crime.

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin said the high-profile display shines a light on the "incredible amount of work" taking place to reduce violence across West Yorkshire.

She added: "Reflecting on both the challenges faced and the partnership interventions underway, it is a great way to engage people on a crucially important agenda.

“I think it will open many people’s eyes to the issues that exist and the scale of the response, whether that be around prevention or enforcement."

The Yorkshire Evening Post’s Saving Lives After Lockdown campaign is shining a light on the impact of knife crime across the city, looking at methods of prevention post-lockdown.

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