Coventry, a city in central England famous for its history of peace and reconciliation in World War II, is hosting a masterpiece of art near Coventry Cathedral.
Coventry Cathedral will showcase the Knife Angel from 14 March to 23 April in order to address the wave of knife crime in the UK. The work took four years to create after the Home Office allowed the British Ironwork Centre to use roughly 10,000 knives collected from police depots across Britain.
Ed Ruane, Coventry City councillor and cabinet member for Housing and Communities, assisted in bringing the artwork to Coventry, with the Coventry City of Culture Trust, Coventry Cathedra, Coventry City Council, Coventry Police, and European City of Sport 2019 supporting the scheme.
Cllr. Ruane said that too many families were being "devastated by the effects of knife crime" and he was "fed up that the government is continuing to ignore the impact austerity is a having on all aspects of social life especially in our inner cities".
"I've stated before that this is a national crisis," Cllr. Ruane said. "It's no surprise that while public sector agencies are being given less funding violent crime is increasing."
— Laura McMillan (@Lau_McMillan) March 14, 2019
Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said that the UK had seen the "devastating effects" of knife crime across the UK, including in Coventry.
Being the UK City of Culture in 2021 was more than hosting arts and culture festivals, but also bringing a "strong social conscience" to highlight "the everyday issues that our neighbours" were facing, Ms Bhathena said.
— Nicholas Old (@wmasnicholasold) March 19, 2019
The Reverend Kathryn Fleming, of Coventry Cathedral, said: "Coventry Cathedral is no stranger to pain and destruction so it seems fitting that the Knife Angel should stand beside our own guardian, St Michael, and help us to gather our thoughts and longings for peace in our city.
"In making something beautiful from the ugliness and violence of the knives Alfie Bradley follows a pattern that is part of the Cathedral's own DNA — using the pain of the past to build something brighter and stronger — a peaceful future.
— Alison Insley (@alisonnakra) March 17, 2019
Coventry police superintendent Phil Healy said that knife crime had become a priority of the West Midlands police, helping the region to use extra police resources to run more operations aimed at tackling knife crime.
"We need to drive out that culture of people feeling comfortable carrying knives or feel the need to carry knives for their protection," Mr. Healy said. "But tackling the root cause of knife crime is everyone's responsibility, not just the police: we can't arrest our way out of this problem."
Knife crime continues to pervade UK society, with then London Mayor Boris Johnson launching Operation Sceptre alongside the Metropolitan police in July 2015. Operation Sceptre aimed to tackle knife crimes across the capital, resulting in nearly 5800 weapon sweeps and roughly 4600 stop-and-searches in six weeks, resulting in 800 arrests from stop and search alone. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also struggled to fight knife crime across the country, with citizens and leaders slamming the Labour mayor in March for not doing enough to battle the epidemic.