Prevention the cure to tackling knife crime
I have, as I’m sure many of you have, been incredibly saddened at the recent headlines about the number of lives across the country that have been lost recently due to knife related incidents. My thoughts and condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims at this desperately sad time.
One life lost to a knife is one too many and while we’re incredibly fortunate we don’t experience the same levels of knife crime in Shropshire compared to other areas we are not complacent and we must, in partnership, do all we can to prevent knife crime. We all play a part in helping to tackle knife crime.
In Telford, we recently launched a youth knife crime intervention programme to offer support to young people on the periphery of becoming involved in serious violence. We may receive information or have intelligence that a young person is carrying a knife but they haven’t been caught with one, or they could be displaying signs they may be involved with the wrong type of people, for example their behaviour changes or they frequently go missing from home or school and have started to mix with new unfamiliar people. Early intervention with these young people is absolutely crucial to divert them away from crime and the youth knife crime intervention programme will see police, in partnership with a range of other professionals, work with not just the young person but their family too to offer support, advice and guidance.
The fantastic charities ARC and Divert play a fundamental role in the programme who, thanks to funding from West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion, are able to offer support to young people who are at risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice system. They help them access community based activities with volunteers acting as mentors to help them make better choices and avoid getting involved in crime. The work that ARC and Divert do is vital and we’re really grateful for their support and the work they do.
Of course, where there are real concerns about serious violence we need to take positive enforcement action and we recently carried out early morning raids in Brookside. The raids targeted those involved in some very serious offences with a number of knives seized by police. There is no doubt the knives would’ve been used as weapons or by someone trying to protect themselves from violence and I’m pleased we’ve been able to remove these from our streets. As part of our Protect campaign, we will continue to pursue those involved in serious and organised crime and disrupt the groups involved.
In the next few months we will be welcoming some new student officers to the county. These officers are in addition to new and transferring officers already allocated and will boost our numbers significantly, which I’m sure you’ll agree is great news. I know people in our communities want to see more police on the streets and of course I will always welcome more resources. This is a great step forward and the whole county will hopefully see the benefits. We always strive to do the best by you, our local communities, and our new intake will help us to do that even more effectively and help us ensure we’re providing you with the best possible service. I recognise there have been some concerns about where these officers will be based and I want to say that it’s my job, with the assistance of my superintendents and their command teams, to make sure we have our resources where and when we need them and we will always be flexible and make adjustments based on where our demand lies. Our new officers will mean we can put resources back where they may have previously been moved.