Published: 06:00, 02 September 2019
| Updated: 10:02, 03 September 2019
A huge sculpture made of seized and confiscated knives is being put on display to highlight the UK's knife crime epidemic.
The Knife Angel, described as a national monument against violence and aggression, is at the Rochester Cathedral gardens in Rochester from today.
This will be the first time the sculpture has been installed in the south east, after moving around the country in the hopes of adding to the conversation around knife crime.
The almost eight-metre sculpture took two years to make, and was a collaboration between artist Alfie Bradley and the British Ironwork Centre.
More than 100,000 surrendered and confiscated knives were supplied by 43 police forces across the UK including Kent, in the hopes this would help to reveal the scale of the problem.
Alongside being able to visit the sculpture, Rochester Cathedral have organised an exhibition and free sessions with local schools to encourage children to think about the dangers of carrying a knife.
Listen to Nathan Ward talking about the Knife Angel's arrival in Medway
Rev Nathan Ward helped coordinate the Knife Angel's visit to Medway, and hopes this is an opportunity to break down some of the misconceptions around the number of young people carrying knives.
He said: "Ninety-nine per-cent of young people in this country don't actually carry a knife, whereas when I speak to young people they think that percentage is a lot less.
"They think more people are carrying knives, which then leads them to want to carry a knife for their own protection."
This is the closest to the capital the Knife Angel has been so far, after London Mayor Sadiq Khan refused to put the artwork on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth.
Francis Osei-Appiah, who was groomed by a London gang when he was younger and ended up a convicted criminal, now visits Kent schools to highlight the dangers of gang violence.
On the KM Community podcast last week, Mr Osei-Appiah called for Mr Khan to change his mind and allow the sculpture to be installed in London.
He said: "We've seen the murder rate for the past seven years is up by 8% each year. It's huge.
"London got issues, and that's where all the murders are happening by knife crime."
Listen to today's podcast below to hear more about the Knife Angel sculpture
Matthew Scott, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, said: "The Knife Angel is a moving and thought-provoking piece of art which helps to raise awareness of the human cost of knife crime.
"While Kent and Medway have not experienced the same levels of serious violence as some other parts of the UK in recent times, we have our own unique challenges. Some of those challenges are linked to county lines activity operating out of London and other cities, with young people being exploited to act as drugs mules."
The sculpture will be on display until Sunday, September 29.