15 October 2019

Year 8 student Ricky Blight has received a special police award for his research work into young people’s perceptions and experiences of knife crime in Plymouth.

Ricky carried out the knife crime survey with fellow members of Plymouth Youth Parliament - and the findings are so informative that the survey is now being discussed by police nationally.

Ricky was presented with his Superintendent’s Certificate for Selflessness by Chief Supt David Thorne at the Plymouth Police Commander’s Awards Ceremony at the Guildhall on 15 October.

Over 670 completed questionnaires were handed in to the Youth Parliament - many of them collected by Ricky, who was in Year 7 at the time. Ricky also presented an Assembly to all Year 7 students.

The award citation praised Ricky for being the “the key driver in leading the knife crime questionnaire within his school”.

And it said: “The information he collected has been used by many agencies, including Devon and Cornwall Police, who have recognised the incredibly valuable data included and are using it to inform future planning.

“He has exhibited a selfless attitude and has gone the extra mile to assist the Youth Parliament in being successful in raising awareness for young people and keeping them safe.

“This is an ongoing piece of work which is now being discussed nationally.

“This award is to celebrate [Ricky’s] efforts and commitment to giving young people a voice in the city and we want to congratulate him for influencing the change. He is leading the way to ensuring that the next generation has a voice.”

The Youth Parliament data revealed that 85% of young people who responded have not considered carrying a knife and 68% don’t know anyone who carries a knife - but 64% say they are concerned about knife crime.

Other findings included:

67% believed the purpose of protection was a very important or fairly important factor in people carrying knives

60% believed fear was a very important or fairly important factor in why people carry knives

49% felt that the purpose of committing a crime was a very important or fairly important factor behind people carrying knives

60% believed status and respect to be only a somewhat important or not important factor

55% believed that gang related activity or affiliation was only somewhat important or not important - but 62% also believed gang culture has a “significant effect” on young’s people involvement in knife crime.

 

 

Ricky said: “Mostly, students down here see knife crime as an issue that affects other areas, like London. But they also believe it is becoming more of an issue in Plymouth.”

Jenny Way, Professional Youth Worker at Plymouth City Council, said: “Ricky truly deserves this award. He worked really hard ensuring students at Stoke Damerel Community College had their voices heard in the knife crime consultation.

“And he always works hard in the Youth Parliament - he is an asset to the group as a whole and to his family.  He encourages new members and supports them as the advocate for Stoke on our behalf. He is a delight to work with and support.”

Ricky joined the Youth Parliament after seeing how his elder sister enjoyed being a member: “It’s fun,” he said. “And I like to speak up for other people.  But I didn’t think I’d end up getting an award for the work I do!”

Seeing Ricky collect the award was a proud moment for his parents, Antony and Laura. Mr Blight said: “Ricky has a voice and he likes to use it positively. I think that needs to be encouraged. He collected hundreds of questionnaires as part of this project, which was a huge achievement.”

Miss Bevin, Learning Manager for Year 8, added: “The College is very proud that Ricky has achieved this award for work he is doing in the community, and with the way he is representing the College on something that is very much a hot topic nationally at the moment.