Preventing knife crime: Leisa Nichols-Drew's story
Published: 30 Jun 2020
Forensic scientist and lecturer Leisa Nichols-Drew has been very active in influencing policies to reduce knife crime. In May 2019 the House of Lords’ committee on Science and Technology included her recommendations in an appendix to its official report on ‘Forensic Science and the Criminal Justice System’.
“This WCMT research is of paramount importance in impacting knife crime within the UK, in responding to incidents as well as preventing injuries and fatalities from occurring, and therefore in creating a paradigm shift to make UK society safer.” - Leisa Nichols-Drew, Fellow
Leisa followed this up with a presentation at the National Knife Crime Conference (chaired by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime), where she called for the creation of a National Knife Crime Multi-Agency Working Group and legislation to prevent the sale of knives with sharp ends. Leisa’s dissemination has also included engaging with professionals at the National Knife Crime Working Group, the Metropolitan Police forensic science laboratory and the Office of the Forensic Science Regulator.
In terms of prevention, Leisa’s research has contributed to a nationwide campaign, ‘Rounded Knives Save Lives’, aiming to change the manufacture and sale of knives so that only knives with rounded tips are available on the market. Her research and campaign in this area have been covered extensively in the press and social media, and she is in discussion with a number of retail suppliers who are interested in producing rounded designs.
Additionally, she has delivered training workshops to showcase new techniques for investigating knife crimes, which she discovered on her 2018 Fellowship in Canada and Australia. These have been delivered to police officers, crime scene examiners, academics, forensic scientists and students, and numerous police forces are taking her methods forward. Leisa is currently working on two forensic science journal articles which will be submitted for publication in 2020.
In recognition of her research, Leisa has been awarded a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship, the highest accolade in higher education, as well as a Research Engaged Teaching Award at De Montfort University.
Leisa said: “This WCMT research is of paramount importance in impacting knife crime within the UK, in responding to incidents as well as preventing injuries and fatalities from occurring, and therefore in creating a paradigm shift to make UK society safer.”