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Award-winning VR with West Midlands Police

In June, dozens of students at our Hall Green campus took a fascinating step into an interactive world. It was a powerful way to tackle the rise in knife crime across the country, and it was all thanks to an immersive VR simulation – Virtual Decisions.

Virtual Decisions is a multi-award winning educational programme created by Round Midnight, a Birmingham-based creative arts company, in collaboration with West Midlands Police.

First, students put on their headsets to watch a short film involving gang culture, youth violence and risk-taking behaviour. Each student is a part of the scene and must make their own decisions, with the consequences escalating to vastly different experiences.

At the end of the short film, students were excitedly sharing how different each scenario was for them. Some avoided danger while others were arrested. VR proved to be very effective in setting the stage for thoughtful debate.

“You are 3 times more likely to be stabbed by having a knife.”

With their experience in-hand, students went straight into the follow-up workshop with new insight. Why do people carry knives? Protection first and foremost, but also for image, or by peer pressure.

Myths about knives being good for protection were addressed:

  • Vast majority of people who carry knives want protection – they don’t intend to use them. However…
  • Data shows NOT having a knife is a lot safer. This is because of our natural fight or flight response in a dangerous situation…
  • Running away saves more lives by a huge amount. And you are much less likely to run if you are carrying a knife.
  • In West Midlands police data, 80% of people end up stabbed by their own knives.

The workshop also covered something that gets lost in the moments to those who do crimes of passion – the ripple of short and long-term impact, both emotionally and legally, across friends, family and community for the victim and attacker. That one decision to feel safer or encourage a fight could utterly ruin so many lives.

Like with much of our Birmingham community, this is just one collaboration our college has had with the West Midlands Police authority to improve the lives of our students. But it is certainly one our South & City College Birmingham students will remember!