National anti-violence plan to bolster county crime-fighting efforts
- Credit: PA
A blueprint for curbing the spread of knife crime and drug-related violence has been welcomed in Suffolk and Essex.
On Monday, the Government published a Serious Violence Strategy – underpinned by £40 million of Home Office funding.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she was determined to address a rise in serious violence, and exploitation caused by the spread of ‘county lines’ as a way for criminals to supply drugs.
Ministers promised to step up efforts to tackle county lines distribution, which involves city gangs branching into rural or coastal towns, using children and vulnerable adults as couriers.
Drug-related cases were identified as an “important driver” for some of the rise in robbery, knife and gun crime.
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In 2017, the number of people cautioned or convicted for knife possession in Suffolk and Essex hit the highest level for five years.
At the time, Essex Police said London drugs had expanded their activities and brought more violence and knives to the county.
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The Home Office will spend £3.6m to support a new National County Lines Coordination Centre and £11m on an Early Intervention Youth Fund in the next four years.
Assistant Chief Constable of Suffolk police, Rachel Kearton welcomed the strategy and new legislation for providing tactical options to robustly tackle the causes of violent crime, including public consultation to extend stop and search powers for acid possession in a public place.
She said police worked with partners to combat crime associated with drug dealing and county lines through Operation Velocity, and that the ‘Bin a Blade’ knife amnesty campaign meant the public could dispose of weapons without prejudice, while knife crime was also being tackled through the national Operation Sceptre initiative.
Jane Gardner, Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, also welcomed news that more was to be done to help prevent lives being destroyed.
She said reversing the trend in serious violence was a key priority in the Police and Crime Plan, which set out to catch criminals and support early intervention to improve safety.
She said a recent rise in the council tax precept would mean another 150 officers for Essex – three-quarters of which will be working on the frontline in local communities, providing a visible and reassuring presence.