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Colchester is as bad as London for knife crime, claims mum of murdered teen Jay Whiston

More than 420 knives and two guns were recovered from Only Cowards Carry's latest weapons haul

More than 420 knives and two guns were recovered from Only Cowards Carry's latest weapons haul

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The mother of murdered Essex teenager Jay Whiston has claimed Colchester is “as bad as London” for knife crime, but she has admitted it is a problem that has always been there.

A large knife with a curved blade was among weapons collected from the bin at Colchester's central police stationA large knife with a curved blade was among weapons collected from the bin at Colchester's central police station

Caroline Shearer’s comments have come after her charity Only Cowards Carry’s latest amnesty bin, at Colchester’s central police station, saw more than 400 knives and a gun containing ball bearing pellets collected.

Since the charity launched its first amnesty bin a year ago “thousands and thousands” of knives have been recovered, Mrs Shearer, of Clacton, added.

Mrs Shearer’s son Jay was 17 when he was fatally stabbed at a Colchester house party in 2012.

And she said a spate of stabbings last Saturday night in Colchester town centre, when three men were wounded in 10 minutes, would “have never made 
headlines” while Jay was alive.

Pride of Tendring award winners 2015. Caroline Shearer, founder of Only Cowards Carry.Pride of Tendring award winners 2015. Caroline Shearer, founder of Only Cowards Carry.

But she said she was “far from shocked” that such incidents were being reported in the town.

“We want to make people aware of knife crime in Colchester – it’s there, and always has been, but a lot of people don’t see it until it’s too late”, said Caroline.

“Colchester is definitely as bad as London – we have 19 gangs in Tendring alone, which is scary, but again not unexpected.”

Only Cowards Carry, set up in November 2012 in memory of Jay, has now gone beyond its original aim to make incidents of knife crime become “more visible” to parents and children in the town – this includes the introduction of amnesty bins.

New permanent, knife amnesty bin installed in Clacton after a campaign by Only Cowards Carry.

Leanne Thornton  Tendring district council 
Natasha potter, Shani Jackson, Leigh-ann organ and Caroline shearer of Only cowards carry 
Chief inspector  Russ Cole, Lindsay Whitehouse of PCC
Clive knowles and Alfie Bradley of  British Ironwork 
 New permanent, knife amnesty bin installed in Clacton after a campaign by Only Cowards Carry. Leanne Thornton Tendring district council Natasha potter, Shani Jackson, Leigh-ann organ and Caroline shearer of Only cowards carry Chief inspector Russ Cole, Lindsay Whitehouse of PCC Clive knowles and Alfie Bradley of British Ironwork

The organisation has won 19 awards in its four-year history, including Best Business in Essex.

It received formal accreditation last year – and its amnesty bins are now attracting interest from schools across London and south Essex.

Caroline is also meeting with an official from the Metropolitan Police in the next couple of weeks to discuss working with the force.

“It’s great that our influence is reaching more and more people. We’re hoping to put another bin near Colchester’s Vineyard Street car park soon, and we want businesses to know that they can sponsor us for one. Our reach is getting bigger and bigger every day.”

You can donate to the charity, and find out more information, by visiting onlycowardscarry.org

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