Youngsters' knife crime crackdown

POLICE are today targeting teenagers in a major education drive after it emerged officers have dealt with almost one knife-related incident a day in the last year.

POLICE are today targeting teenagers in a major education drive after it emerged officers have dealt with almost one knife-related incident a day in the last year.

Chief inspector Martin Ransome, head of community safety at Suffolk Constabulary, said research has found 15 and 16-year-olds are most likely to commit or fall victim to offences involving blades.

In a bid to fend off any growth in knife culture in Suffolk, police education officers are going into schools to drive home their message. The move comes in the wake of a spate of teenage stabbings in London.

Mr Ransome said: “We are fortunate to have fairly low levels of knife crime in Suffolk and we don't want that to spread. Through the schools and various youth clubs, it gives us the greatest opportunity to shape young people's behaviour.

“Fifteen and 16-year-olds more likely to be the victim or offender in criminal offences than any other age range. The information packs we take into schools are specifically aimed at this group because national research has found they are more likely to carry knives.”

Suffolk police has launched various crackdowns on knife-related crimes in recent years, including a month-long amnesty held last year that saw more than 1,500 blades handed in.

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Nightclub bouncers are also being educated about how to spot people carrying knives and are being given metal-detecting equipment.

The Be Safe Project, which has the slogan “Educating young people that knives cost lives”, has also toured schools in Suffolk and many other counties to offer advice.

David Morris, director of the Chelmsford-based project, stressed counties like Suffolk did not have a serious problem with knife culture.

He said: “There's no comparison between Suffolk and places like London but, having said that, there are still young people carrying weapons around. Fortunately, they are not using them as often in Suffolk as they are in some places.”

The Evening Star revealed last week how 14-year-old Pip Collins became Suffolk's most recent teenage knife-crime victim, thought to have been attacked by someone of a similar age.

The Claydon High School pupil, of Kirby Rise, Barham, was set upon at around 7pm on Easter Sunday as she waited for a bus home at Ipswich's Cattle Market bus station.

But she proved to be no push over and fought off the knife-wielding mugger by getting him in a headlock, swinging a punch at him and holding the blade to his chest.

Miss Collins' attacker is described as Asian, aged between 16 and 19, about 5ft 6in, with large moles on his face and was wearing a black knee length coat, a black beanie hat, black gloves, dark trousers and white trainers. Anyone with information is asked to call Pc Helen Firman at Ipswich CID on 01473 613500.

N Do you think Suffolk has a knife crime problem? Have you fallen victim to an attack? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

VARIOUS laws have been passed in recent years aimed at halting the growth of knife crime nationally.

Last year's 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.

The Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959 banned the carrying, manufacture, sale, purchase, hire or lending of flick-knives and 'gravity knives'.

The Criminal Justice Act 1988 contained a list of prohibited martial arts-style weapons and made it an offence to carry an article with a blade or sharp point in a public place. The Offensive Weapons Act 1996 made it illegal to sell knives to children under 16, while The Knives Act 1997 prohibited the marketing of combat knives.

Further reforms have been called for in recent weeks following a spate of stabbings in the London area.

There were 353 reports of knife crime in Suffolk between February 2006 and March 2007.

This included: 57 offences of possession of knives

44 offences of knife-related assaults

36 incidents of people being in possession of a blade or object with a sharp point

35 incidents of knives being used in affray offences

Knife crimes per year in Suffolk

2001 280

2002 335

2003 372

2004 356

2005 337