NKBL overview

No Knives, Better Lives (NKBL) is a national capacity-building programme that supports primary prevention work related to knife carrying in Scotland. In 2009, the NKBL National Delivery Team at YouthLink Scotland and the Scottish Government began supporting partners in 11 selected local authority areas to implement NKBL. In 2014, this support became available to all local authority areas in Scotland.

Our approach to prevention is informed by the principles and values of youth work and a public health approach to violence prevention. This means we focus not just on what it is we don’t want young people to do and how to stop them doing it, but also what we do want young people to be able to do, how we support them to understand and navigate risk and to make positive life choices.

NKBL is funded by Scottish Government and delivered by YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work in Scotland.


Policy Context

The National Outcomes for Scotland express a commitment to improve the life chances of children in Scotland and to ensure that communities have the capacity to be safe from crime, disorder and danger.

Addressing issues of youth violence and anti-social behaviour requires many different types of intervention at many different levels.

NKBL is a primary prevention initiative that specifically addresses the issue of knife carrying but is informed by and complimentary to wider policy priorities and interventions that aim to prevent offending and anti-social behaviour (e.g. Preventing Offending for Young People: A Framework for Action) and to improve outcomes for young people in Scotland (e.g. Getting It Right For Every Child).

There are two strands to the delivery of the NKBL engagement programme.

Strand 1 – Communicating prevention messages to young people across Scotland Using social marketing and youth work methods to communicate information about the risks and consequences of knife carrying, positive decision-making and the importance of reporting knife carrying.

Strand 2 – Capacity-building work to support the delivery of local prevention work with young people Working directly with local and national partners to develop and implement local approaches to prevention by provision of training, development of resources and networking opportunities.


The 4 R’s of Prevention

We believe that effective knife carrying education and prevention should be informed by the 4R’s of prevention and a youth work approach.



Young people are aware that knife carrying is not common (this is
important as protection is a common reason given for knife carrying).


Risks and consequences

Young people are aware of the very serious legal and personal risks
and consequences of carrying a knife or any offensive weapon (young
people are often unaware of the legal consequences of carrying a knife
and the impact that knife crime can have on individuals, families and
communities. Young people often think that carrying a knife offers them
protection when in fact it puts them more at risk).



Young people are 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.



Young people are aware of the importance of telling someone if they
know that someone else is carrying a knife (this is an important aspect
of prevention work and is relevant to all young people).

Partners can access a range of national NKBL programmes that support NKBL work sharing our 4 R’s messages at local level.


NKBL toolkit training

Free places are available for local partners on our training programme within Scotland. The training is based on toolkits and 4R’s messaging and supports those working with young people to run activities from the toolkits. Training is tailored to local needs and can be arranged with the team.

These toolkits are all free and can be downloaded from our Resources Page.


No Knives, Better Lives Network

The NKBL Network brings partners together at national network events and regular updates through our newsletter and blogs.


Further information

For more details on any of the national programmes contact our National Delivery Team

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National outcomes



Building Safer Communities Programme



Getting It Right For Every Child

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Practitioners from our network discuss relevant issues.