Town not in grip of blade culture

DESPITE this week's attack and an escalating blade culture which continues to blight much of the UK, figures have revealed that knife crime in Suffolk has remained relatively minimal.

DESPITE this week's attack and an escalating blade culture which continues to blight much of the UK, figures have revealed that knife crime in Suffolk has remained relatively minimal.

The county's police force recorded a total of 118 offences during the last 12 months in which the use of a knife was involved - the equivalent to around one every three days.

Although the figure is nearly twice the volume seen in neighbouring Norfolk, it is dwarfed by Essex (289) and Bedfordshire (316).

The statistics come as politicians and police chiefs attempt to tackle Britain's knife epidemic which has resulted in several murders in recent weeks.

The scale of the problem has come to light following the publication of the British Crime Survey, which shows that a total of 130,000 knife attacks took place in England and Wales in 2007/08.

The survey also reveals that the issue appears to have spread from the urban inner cities to rural counties, with the likes of Devon and Cornwell, Hampshire, Kent and Cheshire reporting large numbers of offences.

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Of the 43 police force areas in England and Wales, Suffolk was ranked 31st in relation to the frequency of knife offences.

The county remains as one of the safest places to live in the UK.

Earlier this year, The Evening Star learnt that more people than ever were being convicted of carrying weapons in Suffolk.

In 1997, there were just 31 convictions for possession of a blade, but by 2006 that figure had leapt to 106, 18 of which related to defendants aged 17 or younger.

Tory leader David Cameron has vowed to send anyone caught carrying a knife straight to prison should his party triumph at the next general election.

Ipswich MP Chris Mole today said Cameron's idea was not sensible and failed to acknowledge the burden on the country's prison system, but called for the “robust treatment” of blade carriers.

He also claimed the problem of knife crime appeared to be increasing in Ipswich.

Mr Mole said: “Over recent months, I have gained the perception that knife crime is increasingly prevalent in the town.

“Unfortunately, it seems the trend seen in other towns and cities is developing here.

“We need to continue to be robust with people who are caught carrying knives and to explain the horrific nature of knife crime injuries.

“I don't think it's the case that knife crime in this country is of truly epidemic proportions, but it needs to be taken seriously.”

The five police forces which recorded the most offences involving a knife:

1 - The Metropolitan Police - 7,409

2 - West Midlands - 2,303

3 - Greater Manchester - 2,294

4 - West Yorkshire - 915

5 - Merseyside - 757