Knife arrests soar in Suffolk despite Bin a Blade amnesty

Knives collected from the Bin a Blade amnesty bins.

Knives collected from the Bin a Blade amnesty bins.

The number of people caught carrying a bladed weapon in Suffolk has risen to its highest level for six years.

One of Suffolk's amnesty bins.

One of Suffolk's amnesty bins.

Suffolk Constabulary arrested 118 people for possession of a knife in 2016, six years after Bin a Blade was launched.

Despite the huge increase, policing chiefs have stood by the merit of the initiative, which has seen amnesty bins put up around the county for people to surrender their weapons.

According to statistics released by Suffolk Constabulary following a Freedom of Information request, 75 people were arrested for carrying a knife in 2011, when Bin a Blade started. This dropped to 47 in 2012, but then jumped to 62 the following year.

In 2014 there were 52 arrests, 62 in 2015 and 118 in 2016.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Suffolk’s Acting Detective Chief Inspector Matthew Connick said: “Despite a number of incidents in the county last year, knife crime remains comparatively low in Suffolk and Bin a Blade remains one of the initiatives to tackle these types of incidents.

“We recognise that criminals are unlikely to give them up through the amnesty bins but, as has been previously shown, it does take some significant weapons out of circulation and every knife deposited is one less that could be used in crime.”

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Mr Connick said the arrest figures fluctuated year to year due to “a number of factors”, including an increase in police patrols and stop searches.

“Carrying a knife can have serious consequences,” he added.

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said he still fully supported the use of the amnesty bins, adding: “Ultimately it is about making Suffolk as safe as possible.”

“We need to do all we can through education, peer pressure, policing and sentencing to make it absolutely clear that it’s never acceptable for a person to carry a knife or weapon,” he added.

“I find it really disappointing that anyone carries a blade of any kind.”

Between January 2011 to October 2016, the most recent figures available, 16,922 weapons have been given up in the amnesty bins located in Ipswich, Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Mildenhall and Sudbury, as well as some mobile bins.

The first year of Bin a Blade was hailed a beaming success, with more than 6,000 bladed articles taken off the streets.

The next year, in 2012, the number of weapons surrendered fell to 2,205, then 2,606 in 2013 and 1,720 in 2014. There was another peak in 2015 with 2,562 blades collected, and from January to October last year there were 1,704 weapons counted.

Last month two men were killed and another two were seriously hurt during two high-profile stabbing incidents in Ipswich.