‘Enough is enough’ – Campaign calls to end the menace of knife crime in Suffolk and Essex
- Credit: Archant
Today the Ipswich Star and East Anglian Daily Times are calling for an end to the disturbing rise in knife crime which is wreaking havoc on communities in Suffolk and Essex.
Our new knife crime campaign is being launched amid the growing tensions created by knife attacks, which have risen significantly in Suffolk and Essex over recent years.
In many cases the attackers and their victims are teenagers. Seven people have lost their lives in stabbings since December.
Ipswich has seen the worst of the troubles but stabbings have been reported in towns across the region.
In the latest attacks, a 16-year-old boy was stabbed in Landseer Road, Ipswich, on Saturday, followed by two double stabbings in Newmarket and Ipswich over Monday night into Tuesday morning.
The campaign aims to:
•Highlight the devastating impact of knife crime on its victims and their families
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•Support the good work that is already being done by police forces and charities in Suffolk and Essex
•Educate our readers about the dangers of knife crime
•Investigate the causes of knife crime and what is being done to tackle it
The latest police figures show that in Suffolk the number of knife crimes reached a high of 239 last year – up from 162 two years ago. The crimes recorded included robberies, rapes, assaults and threats to kill.
Knife crime in Essex has almost trebled since 2011, with 987 incidents recorded last year.
Nationally there has been a 20% year-on-year increase in knife crime, which experts say is being fuelled by gangs.
Simon Mills, temporary superintendent with Suffolk Constabulary, said much of the knife crime in the county was connected with drugs, including London gangs which are moving their trade out of the capital.
Supt Mills, who is also Ipswich Borough Commander, said police had taken “robust action” against those involved, with Operation Velocity launched to provide a countywide focus on drug related activity, specifically connected to the London dealers.
His message to young people in Suffolk is that “there is no excuse to carry a knife”.
“Knife crime can have devastating consequences and if you are found illegally in possession of a knife you will be arrested, could be put before the court and brought to justice,” he added.
“Knives do not keep you safe – quite the opposite. By carrying a knife you are putting yourself in much greater danger.”
The same message runs through the work of knife crime charities in Suffolk and Essex.
Caroline Shearer, who set up Only Cowards Carry after her 17-year-old son Jay Whiston was fatally stabbed at a house party in Colchester, said there had been a “cultural change” in recent years that made young people see knives as necessary for protection.
She has worked at schools where eight-year-old children were carrying knives and said the problem was getting worse.
“These figures are only the tip of the iceberg,” she added.
Mrs Shearer said young people’s attitudes were fuelled by video games and social media.
Jane Gardner, Essex’s deputy police and crime commissioner, who has supported the charity for several years, said: “Having any weapons on our streets is a problem and it is unfortunately a reality that the use of knives is increasing, especially by gangs,” she added.
“Anything that helps to reduce the number of weapons on our streets and educates people on the impact of carrying weapons is something that we would strongly support. Only Cowards Carry should be congratulated for making a positive difference in their communities.”
Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, Tim Passmore, is also keen to support initiatives on knife crime.
“The level of stabbings that have been reported in Suffolk is a huge concern and I really welcome this campaign,” he added.
“This is an issue that Suffolk Constabulary takes extremely seriously, and as PCC I am committed to helping get blades off the street.
“We really need to reinforce the message that carrying a bladed weapon is not a protection that makes you safer – it only makes it worse.”
Have you been affected by knife crime or do you have a suggestion for the campaign to investigate?
Email here email@example.com to get in touch.
Nearly 40,000 blades are thought to have been taken off the streets of Suffolk and Essex through recent amnesty campaigns.
The Suffolk campaign – Bin a Blade – was launched following the death of Lewis Watson, 23, who was stabbed on a night out in Sudbury.
Lewis’s sister, Holly Watson, launched her own anti-knife campaign, which, with support from BBC Radio Suffolk’s Mark Murphy led to Suffolk police initiating a permanent knife amnesty.
Bin a Blade was set up in December 2010, providing static and mobile bins in which more than 18,500 bladed items have been deposited and destroyed.
The latest week of action – Operation Sceptre – saw 705 blades emptied from the bins.
In Essex, the amnesty has been led by Caroline Shearer, the mother of Jay Whiston, a teenager who was fatally stabbed at a Colchester party.
Her charity – Only Cowards Carry – has 19 amnesty bins in which more than 20,000 weapons have been left.
Knife crime has become an almost daily occurrence across the region – with deadly results.
The fatal stabbing of Dean Stansby in Ancaster Road, Ipswich, on February 8, left the community reeling.
The 41-year-old from Trimley, who had just become a grandfather, was described by his brother Paul as a “larger than life” character.
Five people have been arrested in connection with the alleged murder.
The death of Geoffrey Caton, 57, of Cumberland Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, on July 20, also left neighbours in shock. A post mortem investigation found Mr Caton had been stabbed “65 times”.
Police charged 43-year-old Mourad Belarbi, of Lake Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, with murder.
The death of Peter Wrighton, 83, was found with stab wounds to his neck and head near
East Harling on August 5, was met with more shock. Alexander Palmer, 23, of Bawdeswell has been charged with murder.
The rise in knife crime has been met with shock on social media.
People commenting on the Ipswich Star’s Facebook page shared their concerns about the escalating violence and what should be done.
Ryan Woollard said it had become normal to carry a knife for many age groups.
Jason Loane added:“It’s not the knives, it’s the culture they have come from. Kids aren’t gangsters, they’re just stupid kids – grow up or you’ll only be a victim of your own stupidity.”
Lambethdm Mcnicholl said she saw her neighbour being stabbed in 2010. “It still haunts me today,” she added. “I hate knives, I don’t get why carrying and using them is so big – it’s evil and wrecks lives and something more needs to be done.”
Tommy Thorpe said more stop and searches may take a lot of policing “but will deter people if they get sentenced”.
Lou Böhmer said a “massive number of people” had been affected by the death of Dean Stansby.