This Ripon barber shop is helping to lead the fight against knife crime - here's everything you need to know
A Ripon barber shop is stepping up to help lead the fight against knife crime by becoming one of the first in the country to back a major new campaign, Barbers Against Blades.
Westwood’s barber shop on The Arcade has pledged its support to help raise awareness and use its position within the community to encourage people to have open and frank conversations around a difficult subject.
And if any passers-by are moved enough by the message of the campaign to hand a blade in, Westwood’s will give it immediately to police. Shop owner Josh Westwood said that while Ripon is by no means a hotspot for knife crime, it alarms him just how many people carry knives, even if it is just a penknife - believing that it will provide protection, when it could actually increase the chances of being attacked.
Mr Westwood said: “I think we can all feel great sadness at how the problem is spreading nationally, and I don’t want to stand by and do nothing while we see it creeping into our more rural areas and affecting even more people.
“If I can help influence and educate our young people before any problems set in, then I’ll feel much happier. Instead of waiting for the problem to arrive and escalate, we should prevent it before it even gets going.
An extreme challenge like no other - The extraordinary Harrogate group taking on the Atlantic“Obviously if anyone suspects an incident then they should call the police straight away. As members of Barbers Against Blades, we will be happy for anyone to hand their blade in to us completely anonymously.
“But I should make it very clear though that we are certainly not trying to replace or bypass the police in any way, and any blades we receive will be given straight to them. The police should always be the first port of call for these matters.”
The campaign is gaining momentum both across the country and in Ripon, and Mr Westwood believes that barber shops are an ideal focal point for such a movement to thrive.
He said: “Barber shops are an excellent focal point for this type of campaign - primarily because we engage in conversation with people of all ages on a daily basis, and have the ability to raise topics that others may not feel comfortable speaking about.
“The barber shop is a relaxed and informal atmosphere where people can escape their troubles in the outside world.
”And someone’s barber is often one of the most trusted people they know, and many feel more comfortable confiding in their barber than they do their GP.”