Knife crime: Welsh non-profit tackles youth knife crime in South Wales

Knife crime in Wales has doubled since 2013, including a portion of offenses being done by juveniles. How is a Welsh non-profit organization tackling this issue and making a difference in South Wales?

MAC works with children and young people from all backgrounds depending on their individual situations (credit: Media Academy Cymru Instagram)

South Welsh children who were or are currently affected by the criminal system are being given opportunities with a non-profit to live a safe and meaningful life. 

Media Academy Cymru (MAC) is a small non-profit organization that was designed in 2010 to help children and young people (CYP) in Wales who need support from the criminal justice system. 

MAC’s work covers the whole of South Wales in places like Monmouthshire and Carmarthenshire. Working with the government, the organization has sought better options for children who were arrested for knife crimes or other offenses, for them to have a second chance at life. 

“Instead of giving children a criminal record, we thought ‘why don’t we work with them to prevent them from getting closer to negative behaviors and eliminate any other barriers they get from being in the jail system’,” said Nick Corrigan, who is the chief executive of MAC. 

Nick Corrigan started Media Academy Cymru in 2010 with four other colleagues and now has grown the network to eighty employees (credit:

Some of the services they offer include their ‘DIVERT’ program, which is a case-by-case basis where managers work with children and young people between the ages 10-17 to deliver and engage in a ‘Community Resolution’ as an alternative to receiving a punitive outcome.

MAC also offers another service for LGBTQ youth called ‘GWIR’, which is a youth group based in Newport that offers a supportive space for young people aged 11-25.

“Fifteen years later, through our programs that we’ve worked on, we are now working with 6,000 children a year. There was no plan initially, but the areas we work on now which include knife crime, violent family situations, and more, is a result of what we saw and wanted to enact in Wales,” said Corrigan.

Since 2013, knife-related offenses have doubled in Wales according to the ONS Crime Survey. Of that portion, juveniles between the ages of 10 to 17 were the offenders in around 18% of cases.

In March 2023, there were around 50,500 offences involving a sharp instrument in England and Wales (credit: UK Parliament)

MAC’s initiative is to decrease this statistic and provide a space in South Wales for children who require training, mentoring, and activities for children who are part of this demographic. 

Nonetheless, this program is one of the dozens that exist in the area for children to be a part of.  There are dozens of programs that South Welsh children can enroll in even in Cardiff. Some include the Cardiff Central Youth Club, Future Youth Impact, and more.

Some stories that have come out of MAC have left an impact on some of the staff personally. Corrigan recalled a time when one child that worked with MAC was arrested for stealing deodorant from Boots. 

“Previously before our work started, the police would have given him a criminal record for stealing. When nobody asked him why he decided to do it, we did and we found that he committed this “crime” because he was having personal hygiene issues,” said Corrigan. 

After working with MAC, he was able to work through this situation on his criminal record and gain more confidence with this setback. Corrigan and his team learned that the child’s parents did not teach him about personal hygiene during a time when he was going through puberty. 

“That child wasn’t being bad, he just wanted the bullying to stop. As a society, we need to start asking why children commit these actions versus assuming that they are criminals,” said Corrigan. “That story always re-energizes me because it helps show people that we need to ask why a child does something first before always jumping to the most extreme measure.”

MAC has worked with the Wales Without Violence initiative as part of their new program, PAC, which tackles change through research (credit: Media Academy Cymru Instagram)

For the new year, the organization hopes to continue rolling out its new program called the Peer Action Collective (PAC Cymru), which is dedicated to creating positive change in children’s communities through research and proactive action.

PAC is the organization’s mutli-award winning. program that has ventured out into many different areas for children and young people to participate in including the Social Action Project and Wales Without Violence Framework.

“Hopefully in ten years, we want South Wales to become a safer place with our initiatives. PAC and all of our programs that we do are showing people for the first time how can we make sure everyone has a part in this movement for bettering our youth,” said Corrigan.