Police break up fight in Leeds and seize two knives in Operation Jemlock crackdown

Two illegal weapons have been seized by police after officers dispersed a fight in Leeds.

Saturday, 3rd October 2020, 4:45 pm

Officers from the Operation Jemlock team, a West Yorkshire Police crackdown on violence and knife crime, were on patrol in Harehills on Wednesday night when a fight broke out nearby.

The officers quickly arrived at the scene and the group dispersed before anyone was injured.

Two knives, including a 30m kitchen knife, were seized by police after the group had run away.

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The knives seized in Leeds (Photo: WYP)

The Operation Jemlock team tweeted: "Officers on patrol in Harehills when a group were involved in an altercation nearby.

"A quick response led to the group starbursting and knives being recovered.

"Our response ensured the situation didn't escalate, no one was injured, enquiries ongoing."

Police explain why illegal weapon possession crimes have doubled in Leeds

The number of people caught with knives and illegal weapons in Leeds has more than doubled in the last five years.

There have been more than 3,000 arrests made and 300 weapons seized across West Yorkshire as part of the operation which began in April 2019.

Police data, obtained by the Yorkshire Evening Post under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, shows that possession of weapons crimes in the city are rising year-on-year.

There were 874 weapons possession crimes recorded in Leeds from April 2019 to March 2020, the figures show.

It represents a rise of 21 crimes compared to the same period last year and a figure more than double that recorded in 2013/14.

Speaking to the YEP, Supt Solley said: "Certainly since Operation Jemlock launched, we’ve seen some really encouraging results from the activity of our officers.

“There is no question that the increase in possession of weapons crimes has to a degree been down to increased activity to clamp down on knife crime and serious violent crime.

"The more you target any particular crime, the more of it you record.

"There has been an increase in the seizure of weapons and we’ve seen 200 weapons taken off the streets in West Yorkshire since 2019. That’s really encouraging news to our communities."

While the number of people caught with illegal weapons in Leeds is rising, Operation Jemlock has seen some success in reducing knife crime across West Yorkshire.

Overall knife crime fell by 13 per cent in the 12 months following the operation's launch, while knife crime involving victims under 25 dropped by 16 per cent.

The force has increased the use of stop and searches in Leeds and 'sweeps' on parks and other public spaces where they believe illegal weapons could be hidden.

Supt Solley said the launch of the West Yorkshire's Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), one of 18 across the country, will work to divert young people away from crime and picking up a weapon.

Launched in March, the unit is run by the Police and Crime Commissioner and will focus on early intervention and preventative work, with locally delivered projects to give young people a different focus through sport, art or music.

Supt Solley added: "It's about diverting young people away from crime, the VRU uses Government funding to give young people a different focus and help them find a different path.

"We can't be there for everybody, we can't change every young person's life.

"But if we can provide those pathways to divert young people away from that kind of life, then the project work is really worthwhile."

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Thank you

Laura Collins