Open Aye for No Knives, Better Lives, 2018-2019


Open Aye worked with Youthlink Scotland as part of their No Knives Better Lives project to provide a series of photo advocacy workshops for young people resulting in the creation of an image bank of professional photographs. These images were offered for free to the Scottish media to use when reporting on knife crime.

No Knives, Better Lives is a national knife-carrying prevention programme in Scotland set up in 2009 as a response to the very high incidence of knife crime in Scotland and the concerning number of young people charged with handling an offensive weapon. Over the past ten years, the number of crimes involving offensive weapons has reduced by 64%, resulting in a change in approach by No Knives, Better Lives to preventing knife crime.

Initially, the campaign used images of knives and the violent consequences of knife crime to reduce violence. However, it is now believed that fear-inducing images may inadvertently increase the risk of carrying a knife. Rather than trying to scare young people into not carrying knives, a new approach has been taken, reassuring them that knife carrying has significantly decreased in Scotland and that there is no need to carry one.

Images used by the media often sensationalise knife crime by showing images of large knives and stereotyped portrayals of young people. Working with the media to change this narrative could help enhance this more positive message to young people and communities in Scotland.

Open Aye ran the Taking Stock project to co-design new stock images on knife carrying with young people. Our approach was shaped by our understanding of and commitment to children and young people’s rights. By working with young people with experience of offending, we translated their experiences and ideas into a collection of new images that better represent both the consequences of knife-carrying and of being a young person in Scotland.

The No Knives, Better Lives stock images collection provides free images for print, online and broadcast media editorial use only. They are not to be used for any advertising, marketing or promotional purposes by third parties, or for internal communications requirements such as newsletters or non-commercial websites without the permission of No Knives, Better Lives and the copyright holder.

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