Bath psychologists host Knife Angel conference to highlight wide impacts of violent crime

The Knife Angel statue, being brought to Hereford Cathedral on 14th June, will h
The Knife Angel statue, being brought to Hereford Cathedral on 14th June, will highlight the significant impacts knife crime has had on families in the local area.

Professor Hamilton-Giachritsis and colleagues will present a one-day, free event focusing on the impacts of knife crime beyond big cities.

  • Last updated on Tuesday 8 June 2021

Researchers at the University of Bath whose work has looked at the horrendous impacts of homicidal bereavement on the families and friends of victims are this week hosting a one-day event exploring the significant challenges knife crime presents in local communities.

Their event, ’Crime in 2021 - From Knowledge to Practice’ is being organised in the week before a 27ft sculpture, known as ’The Knife Angel’ , is temporarily installed at Hereford Cathedral to highlight the effects not only of knife crime, but all violent crime on families and communities. It is organised in memory of Mark Hamilton, originally from Hereford, who tragically lost his life to knife crime living in the United States in 2018.

  • Knife Angel Hereford: Crime in 2021 - From Knowledge to Practice takes place on Wednesday 9 June from 09:30 - 16:30 BST

Mark’s sister, Professor Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis from the University of Bath’s Department of Psychology , is a forensic and clinical psychologist whose own research has explored these issues.

She has co-organised the event with her sister, Amanda, and will be presenting alongside former Psychology PhD candidate and honorary researcher, Dr Filipa Alves-Costa, whose expertise includes homicidal bereavement, as well as current staff members Dr Rachel Paskell and Dr Sarah Elliott. Several students on our MSc Applied Forensic Psychology with Counselling course have also been part of the organising committee.

Speaking in advance of the event, Professor Hamilton-Giachritsis explained: "Knife crime is problem that can affect all areas, including rural communities. These crimes are having a significant impact and it is important that these topics are discussed throughout our country.

"My family has experienced the devastating loss of a loved one from knife crime and we wanted to do something positive to try to prevent it happening to other families."

"The conference is part of a much wider event organised by my mother and friends who have arranged for the Knife Angel statue - The National Monument against Violence and Aggression - to be brought to Hereford on 14th June 2021 for a month, and hosted by Hereford Cathedral."

Wednesday's conference will be introduced by John Campion, recently re-elected Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia. Attendees will also hear from retired Assistant Constable Stephen Cullen and West Mercia Police Superintendent Edd Williams, as well as Flavasum Trust, an anti-knife crime charity, Ellen Milazzo and Karen Holgate of Victim Support, Professor Tom Kirchmaier (LSE), Dr David Wright (Nottingham Trent University), Clifford Grimasson (Re-Hub), Dr Ian Burke of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation and Professor Elizabeth Gilchrist (University of Edinburgh).

Topics to be discussed include county lines and gang culture, restorative justice, impact of homicidal bereavement, domestic abuse and online child sexual abuse. The Herefordshire Youth Council is also taking part, to ensure that younger sections of the community are involved. High Sheriff, Jo Hilditch, will close the conference.

Professor Hamilton- Giachritsis added: "This gives the opportunity to have conversations in the community around violence and aggression, among service providers, agencies, schools, colleges, and the wider community. Activities over the next month will include workshops for young people and events for the community.

"This event really is an opportunity to think afresh about how we tackle knife crime and other forms of violent crime and, significantly, how best we can support victims, their families and friends."

The Knife Angel sculpture is made from 100,000 knives confiscated by police forces across the UK. It was created in 2018 by the artist Alfie Bradley at the British Ironworks Centre. Under the ’Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife’ campaign, the sculpture exists to spearhead change and ensure there is more focus on early intervention, awareness raising and education throughout the UK.

  • For anyone affected by these issues, support is available via Escaping Victimhood and Victim Support Homicide Service.