Royal Marines continue fight against knife crime

Royal Marines and sailors put youngsters from Leeds through a tough fitness session as part of efforts to tackle knife crime.

The personnel are working with the Weapons Down, Gloves Up initiative to help stop children getting involved in knife crime and gang culture.

Bad Company Gym in Leeds hosted the first of the campaign’s events in Yorkshire, which saw dozens of young people go through fitness, discipline and martial arts training.

West Yorkshire Police made more than 10,000 knife crime-related arrests and confiscated more than 2,500 blades in the past five years, according to statistics released earlier this year.

Warrant Officer Dennis Harrison said: “We are using combat sports gyms and academies to engage with diverse communities and promote strong values like courage, self-discipline, and respect for others. 

“We are also building on the work done by gyms to provide an alternative to knife crime and gang culture. 

“It’s also an opportunity for sailors and marines to give something back to their hometowns.” 

The plan is eventually to build a network of gyms and return for sessions every year, with marines and sailors acting as mentors and role models for youngsters.

The training is focused on combat sports, particularly Muay Thai (Thai boxing), and how they can help channel aggression and ultimately steer kids away from crime.

“We want to reinforce the message that no matter when you start there is always an alternative to crime,” added WO Harrison, who is Recruiting Manager for Northern England and Northern Ireland.

The campaign is rolling out across the north of England and has already launched at two other sites: Contender Gym on Teeside and Wythenshawe Black Belt Academy in Manchester. 

The next event will take place in Liverpool. 

The initiative raises the profile of the Royal Navy in the north – which has traditionally been a low visibility area for the Senior Service – and shows young people the potential of life in the services.

There has already been a surge in applications from the north of England in recent months and it is hoped that these events are contributing to that increase in interest.

Sailors and marines have also been booked into events with schools and youth groups across the north through work with Violence Reduction Units and Community Police.