One Direction singer Liam Payne said he was once held at knifepoint when he was 12 years old.
The 25-year-old told The Mirror the experience was "one of the scariest things I've been through" and it inspired him to raise awareness of the dangers of knives. He told the paper he supports its End The Knife Epidemic campaign.
"It was one of the scariest things I have ever been through in my life," the "Strip That Down" singer said. "I was lucky, but so many aren't... Something needs to be done. We've reached unprecedented levels of people losing their lives."
Payne said he and a friend went to an isolated spot in Bilston, a town about three miles from where Payne grew up in Wolverhampton in England.
"This 6-foot-2 guy says 'I will tell you the truth, lads, you've been brought here today to get jacked.' My life flashed before my eyes," Payne said. "He pulled out a massive hunting knife and I felt my heart in my throat. It was really scary."
Payne said the man pointed the knife in their faces and started "sharpening the blade with a stick and making up raps."
"We ended up giving him what we had in our wallets," Payne said. "Eventually we just legged it and jumped on the nearest bus even though we didn't know where it was going."
Payne said he was too nervous to tell his parents about it, a decision he regrets to this day. He said children should open up to their families if they experience knife crimes firsthand.
The one lesson Payne said he learned from the incident was to not take "stupid risks," adding, "We were bored kids with nothing to do. We went along with it and I ended up in the worst situation in my life."
Payne said everyone should think twice before going out with a knife and called on the U.K. government to appoint a "knife tsar" to educate people and police on the dangers of carrying the weapon.
"I think there's a lot of myth around it, that it's just London that has a problem," Payne, who shares a 1-year-old son with singer Cheryl, explained. "It's not – a lot of the bigger cities have increasing problems, in particular my home town of Wolverhampton."
Payne's comments came as the U.K. government has come under increased scrutiny for the rise in knife crimes. On Wednesday, The Guardian reported that the government set aide £100 million to "pay for additional overtime targeted specifically on knife crime," according to Chancellor Philip Hammond.
The number of stabbings in England and Wales reached its highest level since authorities started keeping statistics in 1946. Between March 2017 and March 2018, 285 killings involved a knife or sharp instrument, the Crime Survey for England and Wales reported.
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