Knife crime campaign by brother of Preston murder victim takes 105 blades off the streets
An anti-knife crime initiative set up by the brother of Preston murder victim Jonjo Highton has hit a century of blades taken off the streets.
The JJEffect intervention programme has collected more than 100 in just over nine months as founder Byron Highton steps up his tour of schools, prisons and other groups warning of the dangers of carrying weapons.
Byron's younger brother was brutally murdered by a gang of knife-wielding thugs on a street in Preston in August 2014.
Since that awful day Byron has dedicated his life to persuading young people to turn away from knife culture.
"We have now collected 105 blades in the last nine or 10 months," he told the Post.
"But the knives are a bonus, it's the the number of lives we're changing that pleases me the most.
"This all started with the death of my brother. Now I am who I am because of what happened to Jonjo.
"To be honest I think he'd be absolutely buzzing at what we're doing in his name."
The JJEffect won an award for education at the recent Make a Difference Awards run by BBC Radio Lancashire.
Byron, 31, is "incredibly proud" of that achievement because it gives the initiative real credibility.
"We give a very powerful presentation to schools and other groups and we are having a real effect," he said.
"I have seen so many horrific knife crimes and, while it might shock, the message we give out certainly isn't one people will forget in a hurry.
"I still get emails and texts from people who saw our presentation two or three years ago. The message has been cemented in their heads.
"We have got a momentum going now and we have to keep it up. I think we are the best at what we do in this field and I'm proud of what we've achieved so far.
"Knife crime has been spiralling out of control so we need to keep getting our message out there.
"We took an M16 bayonet off the street last night and four days ago we had a zombie sword handed in. We've had a couple of machetes in the last few weeks and also meat cleavers.
"Our message is that it doesn't matter how big the knife is - it could be a Stanley knife or a machete - it can still kill someone."
Six young men were all jailed for life for the murder of 18-year-old Jonjo in St Stephen's Road, Deepdale. They will all stay in jail for between 20 and 29 years. Three more people were also jailed for assisting an offender.
Byron said: "The success so far of our JJEffect initiative is a bitter-sweet thing for me. After all I lost my brother seven years ago.
"But I can only hope he is looking down and he is happy with what we are doing."