DESPITE efforts across Suffolk to cut the number of blades on the streets, new figures show violent knife crime has gone up over the past two years.

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In 2009/10, there were 178 violent or sexual crimes involving knives while in 2011/12 the figure had gone up to 190. But in Essex, there has been huge progress and a 50% reduction.

The details, from the Office for National Statistics, were revealed in the House of Commons following a question by Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley.

Mr Ruffley said he was not impressed by the drop in Essex, and that the new Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore would have to address the rise in Suffolk as a priority.

He said: “The fact there has been a slight increase in Suffolk while in Essex it has halved can’t hide the fact that Essex had a staggeringly high number in the first place – an absolutely unacceptably high level. In Suffolk, we are still much less lawless.

“There is always room for improvement to be made and we are not complacent. This is exactly the sort of thing the new PCC will have to address.”

A Suffolk police spokesman said the successful Bin a Blade campaign had seen thousands of potential weapons removed from the streets in the last two years.

He added: “Whilst we recognise the slight increase in incidents involving knives is of concern, we would remind people knife crime still equates to less than 1% of overall crime in the county. Suffolk remains one of the safest counties to live and work, with overall crime falling for its sixth consecutive year last year.

“However, we still want to raise awareness of the consequences of carrying a knife and are doing so through the ongoing Bin a Blade campaign. So far this year more than 1,600 knives have been deposited in the bins situated around the county, with four bins outside Ipswich, Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds and Mildenhall police stations.

“This is on top of the 6,125 deposited in 2011, which demonstrates a willingness of residents in Suffolk to discard these potential weapons.”

In 2009/10, there were 679 incidents in Essex, the following year the total was 530 and in 2011/12 it was just 338 – a 50% drop in two years.

Ann Oakes-Odger, of KnifeCrimes.Org, welcomed the news and said she hoped to see the downward trend continue.

Ms Oakes-Odger’s 27-year-old son Westley was stabbed to death in 2005 during an incident at a cashpoint in Colchester.

She has since dedicated her life to tackling knife crime across Essex and is the founder of KnifeCrimes.Org, an online knife, gun and gang related information resource.

She said: “The figures are very encouraging. I’m very hopeful that our message is getting across. I’m very pleased to hear that we are bringing this figure down.

“It’s still too many of course and we must not be complacent about wanting to take a long term view and that involves preventative education in schools alongside the robust sentencing that I have personally achieved - I think the two go hand-in-hand.”

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