Knife crime by children doubles

KNIFE crime involving children in Suffolk has more than doubled in four years, the EADT has learned.

Anthony Bond

KNIFE crime involving children in Suffolk has more than doubled in four years, the EADT has learned.

Offences involving the use of knives by under 18-year-olds have risen from an average of just over one a month in 2003/4 to about four a month in 2007/08.

The figures released by Suffolk police following a Freedom of Information request shows there has been a 147% increase with 19 offences four years ago compared to 47 in 2007/8.


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Earlier this week a Suffolk mother voiced her fears about Britain's knife crime problem after her 12-year-old son was held at knifepoint by a gang of children as young as ten at an Ipswich park last Saturday.

It follows a horrendous week in the capital in which 16-year-old's Ben Kinsella and Shakilus Townsend were stabbed to death. There have now been 18 teenagers murdered in London this year.

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One Suffolk MP warned that the figures obtained by the EADT show that knife crime is not only confined to London and urban areas.

West Suffolk MP Richard Spring said: “It is a nationwide problem which is causing terrible damage to people's lives and even in Suffolk we are seeing the growth of violent gang cultures with knives which we have never seen before. Frankly there has to be a real attempt to deal with this issue.

“The horrors of city life are now invading our county and that is a terrible state of affairs.”

Anti-knife campaigner Ann Oakes-Odger, whose 27-year-old son Westleywas stabbed to death at a cash-point in Colchester in September 2005, said children need to be educated at a young age. She warned that a youngster in every school was carrying a knife.

“You have to get the message to children when they are young - particularly Year 7s, as they are having to deal with a lot such as other boys and girls who are the size of adults and that is when the temptation to carry a knife hits,” she said.

“But there is no such thing as carrying a knife 'for protection' and that just has to change.”

Inspector Ben Cook from Suffolk police's Community Safety team, said: “The number of people being arrested demonstrates Suffolk Constabulary's commitment to tackling knife-related crime and officers' robust action against anyone caught with a knife. Between 2006 and 2007, the number of crimes involving a knife actually fell by around 25% and violent crime as a whole has also fallen in Suffolk by 6.8% in 2007/8 compared to the year before.”

Inspector Cook added that a wide range of initiatives are being used countywide to prevent offences including weapon amnesties, work with school pupils using the 'it's not cool to carry knives' education programme to inform children about the consequences of carrying knives. The police also provide conflict management training to door staff of licensed premises and metal detecting wands which door supervisors use to search people entering pubs, clubs and bars have been purchased and at key times officers operate a meet and greet system at licensed premises to discourage criminal offences.

Suffolk police warned that anyone who carries a knife will be caught and prosecuted and said if people know of anybody illegally carrying a weapon contact police immediately or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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