‘NO MORE HEARTACHE’: Police launch gun and knife amnesty as Leeds continues to grieve two murdered teenagers

Teenagers gather at Irfan's vigil in Harehills
Teenagers gather at Irfan's vigil in Harehills

The heartbreak caused by people carrying weapons on the streets of Leeds is at the forefront of many people’s minds as the families of two murdered teenagers continue to grieve.

In the past month, the city has seen suspects arrested over the fatal shooting of Raheem Wilks, 19, and the unconnected stabbing of Irfan Wahid, 16.

Some of the weapons handed in during West Yorkshire Police's weapons amnesty in 2016.

Some of the weapons handed in during West Yorkshire Police's weapons amnesty in 2016.

The haul of knives and guns in West Yorkshire’s amnesty last year - and where to take yours this week

YEP backs police weapons amnesty in Leeds

As West Yorkshire Police launches its annual amnesty today, there can be few who would question the need for a concerted effort to stop guns and knifes getting into the wrong hands.

But this has not stopped one victim who survived a potentially deadly attack from speaking out in support of the campaign.

By taking part in this weapons surrender you could literally be saving lives.

Mark Burns-Williamson, police and crime commissioner for West Yorkshire

Father-of-three Christopher Wright spent weeks in intensive care and lost his business after being gunned down on the doorstep of his Leeds home in April 2010.

“Our lives were devastated by what happened and I would not want that to happen to any other family,” he said.

“I would support any effort to get guns off the streets – I feel lucky but other people have had their lives devastated by gun crime. I wouldn’t want what happened to us to happen to another family.

“People shouldn’t carry guns and I would urge them to support the weapons surrender.”

Irfan Wahid

Irfan Wahid

The campaign has also won the support of West Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson.

“I would like to place on record my thanks to Christopher Wright,” he said. “I can’t begin to imagine what he has been through.

“To step into the spotlight to support this campaign shows true courage in highlighting the devastation that both gun and knife crime can cause, of which we are only too well aware through recent events.”

In a direct appeal to those in possession of guns and knives, he said: “By taking part in this weapons surrender you could literally be saving lives.”

Flowers at the scene of the stabbing of a 16 year old boy, Harehills, Lane, Leeds.13th February 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Flowers at the scene of the stabbing of a 16 year old boy, Harehills, Lane, Leeds.13th February 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

In the wake of Irfan’s murder, a blue barrel with a handwritten sign was placed at the scene urging people to give up knives.

Now members of the public can hand in any weapons they hold at selected police stations until March 4.

The force hopes the campaign will also inspire those with information about so-called ‘safe’ houses for storing weapons to make contact.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams said: “We want to remove weapons so they don’t end up in the wrong hands on the streets, causing injury to someone or even worse.

“We also want to remove those who involve themselves in the illegal use of weapons from our local communities and it is important that we continue to work with communities and partners to identify, arrest and convict anyone who is involved.”

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Raheem Wilks, 19, was fatally injured during a shooting on Thursday.

Raheem Wilks, 19, was fatally injured during a shooting on Thursday.

The haul of knives and guns in West Yorkshire’s amnesty last year - and where to take yours this week

YEP backs police weapons amnesty in Leeds

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