A Fylde barber is backing a national campaign to curb knife crime.
Lytham-based master barber Theo Petrocelli is promoting the Barbers Against Blades crusade which was started this summer in Somerset.
Its aim is to raise awareness of the dangers of knife crime, particularly among young people and to help rid the streets of such weapons by offering a free surrender opportunity via bins in the shops.
While knife crime isn’t currently a particular problem in Lytham, evidence has shown it is growing alarmingly in other parts of the North West and beyond.
And Theo, who is urging other Fylde coast barbers to follow his example, tells of already concerning anecdotal examples which have prompted him to back the anti-crime initiative.
“In Lytham I have young lads coming into my shop telling me they want to start ‘tooling up’ because they feel it will stop them from getting jumped and get them respect,” said Theo, 44, who runs the Lucky 13 barber shop in Lytham’s Clifton Walks arcade.
“Dave White, who started this initiative, has had similar experiences. Lads are more likely to hand in blades to barbers rather than police as there is a ‘them and us’ situation with teenagers and the police. I myself have had a chequered past and was sent to prison while I was working on the doors in Blackpool as I got into a fight escorting someone off the premises.
“So my focus for the Fylde coast is to get as many barbers signed up to this initiative as possible so we can try and get blades off the streets.
“Even if only 10 blades a year are handed in, that 10 potential life-threatening incidents prevented.”
Mr White said: “I am always being asked for my advice on all manner of subjects on a daily basis and offer reassurance to clients from a diverse range of backgrounds and ages.
“I am regularly a confidante to my customers who are often able to share private information more easily with me than with close family members or authorities.
“Most barbers would agree that this is the norm and this is where the idea of Barbers Against Blades was born.
“With the worrying increase in knife crime, I believe that as barbers we have the perfect platform to raise awareness and provide a safe non-judgemental place to chat about the reality of knife crime at street level.”
Theo’s aim to give the campaign a presence in Lytham is being backed by local councillor Michael Sayward.
He said: “It’s a fabulous idea and all credit to Theo and everyone behind the scheme.
“While we do not have a knife crime issue in Lytham, it is important to keep a step ahead to ensure it stays that way.
“We hear of problems in other parts of the region and anything which can be done to prevent it becoming a problem here is very welcome indeed.”
Anyone wishing to surrender a blade should contact the Lucky 13 shop and ask for a ‘face the blade’ appointment.
“It will be treated totally confidentially, put away safely and then picked up by the local PCSO,” said Theo, a grand master barber of the British Master Barbers Alliance who has been a barber on the Fylde Coast for more than six years and opened Lucky 13 in May.
More details about the campaign at www.barbersagainstblades.co.uk