By Emily Beever, YouthLink Scotland

For National Hate Crime Awareness Week, No Knives, Better Lives and Action on Sectarianism have written special crossover blog posts to share learning between the projects.

The No Knives, Better Lives (NKBL) programme takes a positive prevention approach to knife carrying and crime. This approach means we can support young people to make positive choices and reach their potential. The same approach could be used to prevent hate crime amongst young people.

Our positive prevention approach uses the ‘4 R’s’ as a framework: reassurance, risks and consequences, resilience, and responsibility. This blog outlines how this framework can be translated to hate crime prevention work.

Risks and Consequences

Many young people are unaware of the legal consequences of carrying a knife and the impact knife crime can have on individuals, families and communities. This is similar for hate crime, as there is currently no clear definition of hate crime and considering the existing legislation is currently under review. Giving young people the space to explore the impact of hate crime and ensure they have the facts on the consequences for perpetrators would contribute to reducing hate crime.


With regards to resilience, NKBL supports young people to be more aware of the influences, fears and pressures that can lead to the decision to carry a knife and how these can be managed or avoided. Similarly, in relation to hate crime, integrating this could support young people to resist peer pressure to participate in hate crime. Additionally, increasing resilience in young people and supporting them to understand these pressures and the process of reporting will support young people who are victims of hate crime.


The NKBL programme is not solely targeted towards young people more likely to carry knives, but rather is for all young people. By working with all young people to explore the importance of telling someone if they know someone else is carrying a knife, we reach the bystanders who play a crucial role in reducing knife carrying. Involving all young people is key to creating a culture change where any hate crime is not viewed as acceptable.


For NKBL, the reassurance strand is intended to reduce the fear culture surrounding knife carrying, as we know this can have the opposite effect intended by scaring young people into carrying a knife. For hate crime, perhaps this can be translated into reassurance about reporting. We know that hate crime is underreported and one of the reasons for this is the perception that the police will not do anything or that the incident is too trivial. By using similar techniques to address the complexities around reporting youth work can help to support relationships between the police and young people to improve, creating a culture of trust.

A year ago, the Report of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion said that youth work has an important role to play in “addressing prejudice and underlying attitudes that fuel hate crime, as well as in creating safe environments” for young people. The ‘4 R’s’ framework offers an option for youth work practitioners to take forward hate crime prevention projects.

You can find out more about NKBL at