Taking Action Against Knife Crime
Last weekend saw hundreds of residents come together and march against knife crime and I would like to take this opportunity to say I wholeheartedly support the march, and the campaign started by the Bournemouth Echo.
For my newsletter this week, I’d like to tell you more about the work already happening and future work I’d like to see happen to combat the issues surrounding knife crime.
Ongoing Police Operations:
Over the same weekend as the ‘No More Knives’ march, officers proactively patrolled Bournemouth seafront, the Lower Gardens and in The Square as part of Op Fireglow, which happens every summer and Op Nightjar, which has been running for the past five weeks in Bournemouth. These operations have the specific intent to apprehend those individuals looking to cause serious violence and carrying dangerous implements or offensive weapons.
The force also invoked the use of increased stop and search powers under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. These powers allowed officers to stop and search anyone in the area for weapons, without needing to explain why.
14 people were stopped and searched, including two youths under the age of 18, who were found in possession of a quantity of suspected drugs. No weapons or knives were found during any of the searches that were conducted.
I was pleased to see these powers being used, and of course, should the police consider them necessary or receive information and intelligence to invoke them again – they will have my full support. However, Dorset Police cannot tackle the problem of knife crime on its own.
Bournemouth Town Team:
This week saw the launch of the Bournemouth Town Team, which strengthens the partnership working arrangement between Dorset Police and its partners in how the force prevent, detect, and prosecute crime and ASB in Bournemouth town. It will ensure closer working arrangements between police officers, PCSOs, town rangers, CSAS officers, BID officers, parks team, seafront team and Local Authority ASB officers.
I welcome the launch of this team; this type of joint working is exactly what is needed if we are to truly combat crime and I am pleased to see that the team are already tackling crime in Bournemouth. For example, Dorset Police and BCP council have been working closely together to undertake visible proactive patrols and enforce against unwanted behaviours and the Police have also worked with the parks team to ensure foliage is cut back to make it more difficult for items, such as weapons and drugs, to be hidden.
Although the team will focus on ASB and lower levels of disorder, it is the presence of these sorts of problems that often lead to larger problems in our towns and perhaps even to crime. I know that knife crime and ASB are two vastly different crimes - but they are part of the same continuum, and a climate that tolerates one is more likely to tolerate the other. Therefore, we must target crime at all levels and push for tough, effective enforcement measures to create a safer Dorset for all.
Education and prevention:
In Dorset, we have the Safer Schools Community Team, a partnership between and partly funded by my office, Dorset Police, and Dorset Combined Youth Offending Service. The team provide targeted interventions to prevent and reduce anti-social behaviour, crime, and wrongdoing amongst children and young people and help keep them safe.
As part of this work, the team visit schools and groups across the county, delivering educational sessions to young people. This includes assemblies and workshops on knife crime, during which young people are educated on the dangers of carrying a knife, as well as introducing young people to the concept of knife amnesties.
The work this team do is a key element in preventing crime and I urge parents and carers to look on the Safer Schools website, and in particular take a look at the information around weapons and talk it through with their family.
Violence Reduction Unit:
For the past two years, I have been asking the local authorities to support setting up a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). The unit would bring together essential partners to reduce local violent crime and address the underlying causes. The VRUs understand the local needs of the area and identify where and how interventions would be most effective.
Although Dorset remains one of the safest places in the country for knife crime, too many young people are deciding to carry a knife and I am determined not only to do all I can to address that problem, but to take action in order to prevent future tragedies from happening and that is why in the last two weeks, I have met with the Home Secretary, Tobias Ellwood MP, Conor Burns MP and Vikki Slade, the leader of BCP Council to talk not just about knife crime, but crime and policing in general and the need for a VRU.
I need BCP Council to support this proposal and I need the support of Bournemouth’s MPs as to lobbying government to secure further funding for what I now consider to be an absolute necessity for Bournemouth and our county.
I will of course continue to work with the chief constable to ensure the force have the right resources, equipment, and skills to target those individuals who choose to carry knives and continue to work with MPs and the local authority as we progress towards the creation of a VRU.
I want to make it crystal clear I know, and support residents’ concerns and I am committed to ensuring action is taken to address them. I will update you on the progress of this work and some other plans and initiatives I hope to put in place to help tackle knife crime as soon as possible – so do please keep an eye on my website for upcoming news and my newsletters.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner