Page last updated at 07:17 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Bluetooth rap tackles knife crime

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An animated anti-knife crime rap aimed at teenagers is being sent to mobile phones by South Wales Police

A police force has turned to the latest digital technology in its fight to reduce knife crime.

South Wales Police has created a cartoon character, Robby Bluetooth, as a warning against carrying a blade.

A minute-long animation, to a rap track by a young local musician, is to be sent by Bluetooth to phones by officers on patrol on the streets of Cardiff.

Meanwhile, the Home Office has announced an extra 5m for its knife crime crackdown.

The south Wales force is one of 10 in England and Wales taking part in the Tackling Knives Action Programme (TKAP).

Bluetooth allows us to deliver messages like this - good quality content - and for me content that is portable, one person may pick it up and pass it on.
Andrew McCarthy

A month-long amnesty before Christmas saw more than 700 knives and weapons handed in at police stations across the South Wales Police area.

To drive home the message, it has drafted in its latest - and arguably coolest - recruit, Robby Bluetooth.

Robby has been developed over the past 18 months by Andrew McCarthy of the force's neighbourhood policing team for Cardiff Central and Cardiff Bay.

He has drawn up the storyboards for his adventures and recruited a young musician through Grassroots, a youth project in Cardiff city centre, to provide the backtrack.

He said he hoped that with young people's input on the quality of Robby's look and sound, the youngster's adventures would take on aspects of internet viral marketing.

Robby Bluetooth
Robby Bluetooth learns that carrying a knife is not the right thing to do

He said: "If you look at what most young people carry around, it is a mobile phone. It's the one piece of technology that every young person has now.

"Bluetooth allows us to deliver messages like this - good quality content - and for me content that is portable, one person may pick it up and pass it on.

"I'm hoping friends will go 'have you seen and heard the rap?' and people will start Bluetoothing it to each other.

"Hopefully Robby will grow into a series and become an educational tool across the age range."

The fight against knife crime is not Robby's first outing.

So far he has delivered a message about making premises safe to Cardiff University students when they had a problem with burglaries and he took a (virtual) walk around Cardiff city centre telling people about car crime and protecting their purchases in the new year sales.

Before Halloween and bonfire night last year, he also delivered a message about anti-social behaviour.

The Bluetooth message is delivered automatically by officers on street patrol using a machine that can be carried in a backpack.

Mr McCarthy said the machine did not keep the number of the phone that received the Bluetooth message and people could refuse to accept the message.

On continued funding for TKAP, South Wales Police's assistant chief constable David Morris said it had already brought "huge benefits" in developing policies.

"Through a blend of education, engagement and enforcement techniques, we are determined to continue to develop these sustainable methods to reassure our communities and keep south Wales safe."



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