Neighbourhood policing team officers executed a warrant at Fantasia knife shop in Leeds city centre on Tuesday (Dec 7) to support ongoing work to tackle knife crime involving young people.
The operation, led by officers from Leeds North East Neighbourhood Policing Team, saw a search warrant under the Knives Act 1997 executed at the Fantasia store, in Ludgate Hill, which sells knives, machetes and swords.
The Act covers the unlawful marketing of knives in relation to them being marketed in a way which indicates or suggests they are suitable for combat, or is otherwise likely to stimulate or encourage violent behaviour involving the use of the knife as a weapon.
The operation follows intelligence reports indicating that offenders from rival criminal groups involved in recent violent incidents in Leeds and West Yorkshire have used weapons bought from the shop, police said.
West Yorkshire Police said there have been a number of incidents, primarily in east Leeds, with young teenage males armed with machetes and other large knives inflicting and receiving very serious injuries.
Arrests and charges have been made and the issue remains the focus of ongoing partnership work to target those involved and to proactively deter and disrupt the carrying of weapons on the streets, police confirmed.
Today’s operation saw three men arrested on suspicion of the unlawful marketing of knives.
They remain in custody and enquiries are ongoing.
Officers have also seized a number of knives and swords.
The premises have been immediately closed after a closure notice under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 was issued by Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team.
An application for a longer-term closure of the premises is now being made by the city’s community safety partnership Safer Leeds, which co-ordinates the work of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police.
The move comes after repeated contact with the business to raise concerns over the sale of knives, none of which resulted in satisfactory progress being made, police said.
Chief Inspector Kev Pickles, who heads neighbourhood policing for Leeds District, said: “We have sadly seen a number of serious assaults where machetes and other similar long-bladed weapons have been used to inflict some really shocking injuries.
“In many cases, both the offenders and the victims have been young teenage males.
“This is an issue which has rightly caused understandable concern in our communities and is something we are continuing to take a proactive approach to tackling alongside our partner agencies.
“Targeting the availability of the types of weapons that we have seen used in these incidents is one element of that work, and there is a clear intelligence picture that has led to the action we have taken today in relation to this business.
“We remain very firmly committed to doing everything we can to reduce harm to our young people and to keep our communities safe and I’m certain people will support us in that aim.”
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader with responsibility for Safer Leeds said: “Knife crime can have a huge impact on our communities and that is why we are continuing to take robust action to prevent it.
“Tackling knife crime is a key priority for the council and we remain completely committed to continuing work with our partner agencies and West Yorkshire Police to keep our communities safe.
“A key element of our work is focussed on prevention which includes making it more difficult for individuals to get their hands on weapons.
“An application for a Closure Order on the premises is now also being made by the Community Safety Partnership which coordinates the work of the council and police.”