Pupils to be given talk on knives

THE impact of carrying a knife will be highlighted at stab victim Lewis Watson's former school today, as a two week amnesty gets underway.

Russell Claydon

THE impact of carrying a knife will be highlighted at stab victim Lewis Watson's former school today, as a two week amnesty gets underway.

Officers from Suffolk police and Babergh council will give a hard-hitting talk to teenagers at Sudbury Upper School as part of stamping out a rising knife culture in the area.

A DVD presentation will accompany a talk at the school where Lewis Watson, 23, who was murdered in a knife attack in the town on September 26, was a former pupil.

The education programme will be accompanied by an opportunity for residents to give up bladed objects with no questions asked at designated knife bins over the next two weeks. A survey of resident's feelings towards safety in the town is also taking place.

At the launch of the amnesty at Sudbury police station yesterday it was also revealed there had been at least one incident where a knife had been taken into a school in Sudbury.

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Sergeant Ian Watson, of the Sudbury and Great Cornard Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “This is not just a two week campaign.

“Knife crime in Sudbury is low, however, it is what people perceive it to be and I would like it to become socially unacceptable to carry a knife.”

He added: “We really want to hit home to the public whatever you have got, wherever it is, lets get rid of it so we do not have them in circulation at all.”

Inspector Paul Crick, of Sudbury police station, said of the 20 crimes recorded involving a knife in Sudbury and Great Cornard in 2009 - up from 14 the previous year - only three involved someone being cut. But he stressed it was vital to change people's attitudes towards carrying a blade in public.

As well as officers educating pupils the campaign has seen six metal detecting wands purchased, funded by Babergh's community safety partnership and Suffolk Constabulary. They are being offered for use on the doors of the two nightclubs in the town and will also be carried by police officers who will use them if they have reasonable grounds to believe someone if carrying a knife.

Paul Little, community safety and leisure manager at Babergh, said: “It is an offence to carry a bladed or pointed article in a public place or on school premises and the maximum sentence for this offence is four years imprisonment and/or a fine.

“Despite what some people may think carrying a knife is not a way of defending yourself, quite the contrary, the evidence shows that it renders people more liable to serious injury.”

People are able to deposit their unwanted knives at special bins outside Sudbury police station and the Stevenson Centre in Great Cornard for this morning until February 8.