Striking graffiti mural in Hemel Hempstead urges youngsters to think twice before carrying a knife
'Lives Not Knives!' graffiti artwork unveiled in Hemel Hempstead
A Hertfordshire Constabulary Special Constable has teamed up with Hertfordshire County Council to create a striking graffiti mural in Hemel Hempstead urging youngsters to think twice before carrying a knife.
The project is the idea of Special Constable Tony Wilcock and New Year’s Eve marked the completion of the artwork which fills the subway in Park Lane/St Albans Road.
Plans for a launch event with local MP Sir Mike Penning unveiling the artwork were scrapped due to the current COVID guidance.
For his day job, SC Wilcock works for CC Infrastructure Services, a company that carries out a wide range of restorative works.
For many years, the company has worked with the county council to carry out subway refurbishments, often working with local schools and youth groups to produce artwork on a particular theme.
SC Wilcock said: “The subway in Park Lane/St Albans Road was identified as being in need of repair and refurbishment and I came up with the concept of using the Constabulary’s “Lives Not Knives” campaign after completing a shift where we had recovered a bladed weapon. I felt that the idea of an anti-knife message would be very poignant and make people think.”
Feeling inspired, SC Wilcock reached out to the constabulary’s Gangs and Schools Team to get a deeper insight into the issue of knife crime and together with the team, the council and the graffiti artists they came up with some eye-catching and thought-provoking designs that would engage all age groups as well as young people.
SC Wilcock added: “The artwork shows emojis representing two paths of life; one with knives and one without.
"One entrance shows the growth of a stag which not only represents Hertfordshire but also shows the pattern of change and growth in choosing a better life without knives.
“I hope that the artwork acts as a visible reminder that the police and our local partners will not tolerate knife crime and we’re determined to steer young people away from that path in life.
"If you or someone you know finds themselves involved in knife activity, it is never too late for change and there is support out there.”
Councillor Phil Bibby, Hertfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Environment, said: “We want to make walking and cycling a safe and attractive option for people trying to get around our towns, and refurbishing subways is an important part of that.
"I’m delighted that we’ve been able to use this refurbishment as an opportunity to promote the important “Lives Not knives” messages with this fantastic artwork.
"I’m sure that this clean, bright, subway will help make young people think, as well as encouraging more people to consider leaving their cars at home.”
Dacorum MP Sir Mike Penning said: “Knife crime can destroy families and communities, I welcome this excellent use of art to get the message out there that carrying a knife costs lives.”
If you have information about knife crime in your area, you can report information to Hertfordshire Police online, or by calling 101.