Amnesty sees nearly 200 knives handed in

THIS is the array of knives and weapons handed in by the public during the course of a two week amnesty in a Suffolk market town.

Russell Claydon

THIS is the array of knives and weapons handed in by the public during the course of a two week amnesty in a Suffolk market town.

The collection in Sudbury, totalling 195, includes a lethal ninja death star, two samurai swords and some dangerously long flick knives.

The amnesty was part of a two week drive by police and Babergh council workers to make carrying knives in Sudbury socially unacceptable.

It came following concerns about blades being carried in public after three high profile incidents in the town including 23-year-old Lewis Watson being stabbed to death in an attack off East Street on September 26. Andrew Rowlands, of the Croft, Sudbury, has admitted his murder and is due to be sentenced in Ipswich on February 25.

Police have admitted they were shocked at some of the 18 weapons, aside from kitchen knives, handed into them with no questions asked, but pleased at the response.

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PC Verity Pearson, of the Sudbury and Great Cornard Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “It has totally exceeded my expectations.

“We perhaps expected a handful. More importantly, the reaction from kids has been fantastic.”

As part of the campaign PC Pearson was involved in visits to Sudbury and Great Cornard upper schools to give hard hitting presentations to students about the dangers of carrying knives.

The ninja death star was taken into Great Cornard Upper School after it was handed in and she said it really brought the message home to the children.

“The students were quite shocked when we said someone in Sudbury had that,” she said.

As well as the education around knives and the amnesty, night time revellers were searched with new metal detecting wands and residents were also asked to fill in questionnaires about their perceptions of safety in the town. Some 300 questionnaires are currently being analyzed by Babergh District Council.

Paul Little, Babergh's community safety manager, said: “What's been really important about this campaign is that many of the strands have been developed from suggestions that have come from the residents of Babergh.

“It is absolutely vital that the council and police work with the public to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in our communities.”

Students at the two schools visited have also been asked if they have any ideas to continue the campaign and ensure the education message continues to get through.