Knife crime increases in Suffolk
MORE people than ever are being convicted of carrying weapons in Suffolk, it can be revealed today. In a damning indictment of society in the 21st century, worrying new figures - which include offences carried out by children as well as adults - indicate an escalating problem.
MORE people than ever are being convicted of carrying weapons in Suffolk, it can be revealed today.
In a damning indictment of society in the 21st century, worrying new figures - which include offences carried out by children as well as adults - indicate an escalating problem.
In 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 314 convictions for the possession of a weapon - a 140 per cent rise in only a decade.
And there were 56 convictions relating to children aged 17 or younger - a three-fold increase from 1997.
The startling increase has come to light following a parliamentary question asked by West Suffolk MP David Ruffley.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has announced a police drive against knife and gun crime following several attacks since the start of the year.
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The effort has been promised after Prime Minister Gordon Brown signalled his alarm at “out of control” gangs of teenagers roaming the streets.
But Mr Ruffley, a Conservative home affairs spokesman, said: “Government incompetence means police are spending more time as jailers and less time as crime fighters.”
Today, a spokesman for Suffolk police said the force was committed to tackling knife-related crime and would “take appropriate action” against anyone caught with a knife.
“A wide range of initiatives are used countywide to prevent offences,” the spokesman added.
“Weapon amnesties are held across the county, work is done through the Police Education Partnership where officers work with schools using the 'It's not cool to carry knives' education programme to inform children about the consequences of carrying knives in a social and a criminal context.
“Suffolk Police provides conflict management training to door staff of licensed premises, which has been helped by funding from the Home Office.
“Metal-detecting wands, which door supervisors use to search people entering pubs, clubs and bars, have also been purchased, and at key times officers will operate a meet and greet system at licensed premises to discourage criminal offences.”
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Those who know someone illegally carrying any weapon should contact police immediately or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
More people are killed by knives in Britain than by any other weapon.
Of the 820 homicides in 2005 in England and Wales, 236 - or 29pc - were with a knife or other sharp instrument. Those figures showed that knives are used in 6pc of all violent crimes.
Meanwhile, British Crime Survey figures suggest there are around 100 violent incidents against adults involving knives every day in England and Wales.
Under current legislation, it is an offence to carry a knife in public without “good reason or lawful authority”, with the exception of a folding pocket knife with a blade less than three inches long.
Possession of an offensive weapon carries a maximum penalty of four years' imprisonment.
The 2006 Violent Crime Reduction Act banned the sale of knives to anyone under 18 and it was already an offence under the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 to have an offensive weapon in a public place.
Suffolk police have launched various crackdowns on knife-related crimes in recent years, including a month-long amnesty held in 2006 that saw more than 1,500 blades handed in.
Those 17 or younger in Suffolk carrying:
Weapons (excluding knives) Knives
1997 - 13 4
1998 - 9 3
1999 - 19 8
2000 - 12 7
2001 - 12 6
2002 - 27 18
2003 - 26 15
2004 - 24 13
2005 - 42 16
2006 - 38 18
Those 18 or over in Suffolk carrying:
Weapons (excluding knives) Knives
1997 - 87 27
1998 - 59 19
1999 - 82 18
2000 - 83 23
2001 - 74 25
2002 - 92 43
2003 - 111 37
2004 - 128 55
2005 - 130 53
2006 - 170 88